Partial Knee Replacement Recovery

Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

Partial Knee Replacement Recovery - what to expect and how to get the best results from your new knee

Partial knee replacement recovery will vary from person to person but is generally very good with 92% of partial knee replacements lasting at least twenty years. 

If you are about to have a partial knee replacement, be encouraged. People are usually up and about really quickly after surgery and are home within a few days.

You can usually get up the same day as your operation and can start rehab immediately. 

Here we will concentrate on recovery from partial knee replacements, looking at short term recovery over the first week and longer term recovery over the first few months. We will also look at what rehab involves and how successful surgery is.

Partial Knee Replacement Recovery Timeline

The information here focuses on partial knee replacement recovery, where only one side of the joint is replaced. If you are having a Total Knee Replacement, visit the TKR recovery section instead.

The First Week

You may need to use crutches during part of the knee replacement recovery

Partial knee replacement recovery is usually pretty quick. You are often able to get up and walk around just a few hours after the operation, if not the next day. You can usually put your full weight on the leg straight away, but you may need crutches or a stick to help for the first few days.

You will start your exercises as soon as possible after your partial knee replacement and will progress through the rehab programme as instructed by your physical therapist. People are usually discharged home after 24 hours, but may be kept in for a couple of days if needed.

The main focus in the first week of partial knee replacement recovery is:

  1. Walking: to be able to get up and about independently gradually taking more weight on your operated leg
  2. Knee Mobility: to get the knee moving as soon as possible gradually increasing the range of movement and strength
  3. Pain Control: to keep your pain under control

People are often quite nervous about getting up and down stairs after partial knee replacement surgery, but there are some really simple things you can do to make it much easier. LEARN MORE >

First 3 Months

Partial Knee replacement recovery is usually extremely good

Usually with partial knee replacement recovery, after 3-6 weeks you will likely:

  • be walking normally without any aids
  • be able to drive
  • have only minimal or no pain at all
  • be able to fully bend and straighten your knee

Within 3 months you are likely to be back to all your normal activities and extra ones as you will no longer be limited by your arthritis. Full partial knee replacement recovery can continue for up to 2 years.

Rehab after Surgery

Rehab is one of the most important aspects influencing partial knee replacement recovery. Both before and after surgery you will see a physiotherapist who will go through exercises with you.

It is well worth starting these exercises before you have your operation to get your muscles stronger as you will recover quicker from your partial knee replacement. After surgery, you will be able to progress onto more advanced exercises.

Rehab is a vital part of knee replacement recovery.  Approved use by

Knee replacement rehab exercises help to increase the amount of movement at your knee, so you can bend and straighten it fully, as well as improving strength of your knee muscles and stability of the knee. These all help to make your daily activities such as walking and climbing stairs easier and less painful.

Partial knee replacement recovery will be largely impacted by how much you comply with your rehab program. If you exercise regularly, you should end up with a very strong, mobile knee that allows you to do virtually anything you want.

If however you don’t exercise your knee you run the risk of developing long-term stiffness and weakness in your knee which will affect day-to-day activities such as walking and climbing stairs.

Visit the knee replacement exercises section for simple and effective exercises to do both before and after knee replacement surgery to help you get the best out of your new knee.

How Successful is Surgery?

Partial knee replacement surgery is usually incredibly successful when done on the right patient.

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Our new Knee Arthritis Book is out in paperback or for instant download on your Kindle.  Knee Arthritis: Take Back Control: From Exercises To Knee Replacements & Everything In Between

Top tips, exercises and loads more.

Paperback or Kindle.

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Orthopedic surgeons have strict criteria to follow when deciding if a partial knee replacement is suitable to ensure they work and Physical Therapists are specially trained to help you make the best knee replacement recovery possible.

Studies looking at partial knee replacement recovery have shown that after:

  • 10 years: approx 98% of partial knee replacements are still working 
  • 20 years: approx 92% are still working - 7% higher than Total Knee Replacements
    (figures for Oxford Uni Knee)

Occasionally the fittings may come loose or arthritis may develop in the other side of the knee in which case a total knee replacement will be performed. For more information see the risks and problems page.

Want to Know More?

If you want to know more about knee replacement recovery and surgery, visit the following sections:

  1. Overview: Including who partial knee replacements are suitable for and what is involved
  2. Surgery: What actually happens during surgery 
  3. Problems and Risks: Common problems associated with partial knee surgery 
  4. Common Questions: Answers to the most frequently asked questions 
  5. Partial vs Total Knee Replacements: Compare the two to find out which surgery is right for you
  6. Knee Arthritis Book: All the info you need on arthritis and knee replacements in a handy book

Page Last Updated: 11/10/21
Next Review Due: 11/10/23

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