Recovering from knee surgery

Recovery from any type of knee surgery doesn’t wait until you get home; in fact, the recovery process begins almost immediately. However, once you have returned home, you will need to be patient with yourself as you recover from surgery as it will take time to regain mobility in your knee.

Depending on the surgery you had, you may experience bruising and sensations such as tingling, numbness, and itching in and around your knee. You may also feel a slight pulling around any stitches when you move your leg. This is a perfectly normal part of the healing process and will resolve over time.

Knee replacement surgery is a major operation and a full recovery usually takes between six and twelve months. We appreciate that some people may recover more quickly or more slowly, which is why individual recovery and rehabilitation programmes are tailored for each person.  

As you recover, you will be helped and supported by the multidisciplinary team at Circle. Your consultant will see you at various intervals after your surgery, while our physiotherapy team will work closely with you from the first few days following surgery, helping you to mobilize safely. Sensible, slow, appropriate exercise and movement will help with a full recovery.

You should not drive after your knee surgery until you have recovered enough to use your leg safely. Your Circle doctor will be able to give you more advice on when you can expect to start driving again, which is normally 6 weeks.

Complications of surgery for knee arthritis

Any type of surgery carries certain risks and complications. Fortunately, complications are very rare, but :

  • Allergic reaction: You may have an allergy to the anaesthetic used. You to feel sick for a short time.
  • Infection: To reduce this risk, antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to cover the procedure and your recovery period. In addition, as Circle hospitals do not admit infectious or trauma patients, the risk of infection is further reduced.
  • Blood-thinning drugs (Apixaban) are given, and special calf pumps applied that help keep the blood circulating in the lower legs.
  • Pain: This can usually be effectively managed with painkillers, and you will be prescribed pain medication after your surgery.

Arthroscopic knee surgery, osteotomy, and total and partial knee replacement surgery are all common procedures, but there are some specific complications of any type of knee surgery to be aware of:

  • Loosening and wear of the artificial knee prosthesis: Just as regular joints suffer ‘wear and tear’, so too do artificial joints. Although this is often the main concern of many patients before surgery, a knee replacement can usually be expected to last for 25 year or so. A knee replacement has a 2% failure rate over ten year.
  • Numbness: A small patch of skin on the outer part of the knee may become numb for a period of time after surgery. This will improve over time.
  • Stiffness: The knee will have some stiffness after the operation. This will improve over time with physiotherapy, and as your knee recovers from the surgery.
  • Nerve damage: Damage to nerves around the knee can lead to some weakness, numbness or pain in the leg or foot. This usually settles on its own but may be permanent. It is very rare.
  • Lump under the wound: Sometimes, you may develop a lump under the wound after knee surgery. This is caused by a small amount of bleeding under the skin and usually settles after a few weeks.

These risks and complications are intended for guidance only and are not a complete list. Your doctor will be able to talk you through things clearly when you meet with them before any surgery, and it is important you ask any questions or raise any concerns you have with them before choosing to have surgery.

Getting help for your knee arthritis

If you are suffering from arthritis in any joint of your body, you will know just how much it can alter your enjoyment of life and your ability to carry out everyday tasks. The limitations caused by arthritis in the knee can be noticed when standing, sitting or walking.

While many people will tolerate a certain level of discomfort or stiffness in the knee for a while, long-term and/or severe pain or lack of mobility in the knee joint should be properly assessed by a doctor. Delaying an assessment only extends the time you are in pain, while a thorough assessment, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment can help to get you out of pain.

If your knee is so stiff that it is hard to move, or so painful that you are being woken up at night, you should see a doctor.

Why Circle?

We believe that you’ll find no better place to have your knee arthritis assessed, diagnosed and treated promptly and effectively than at Circle. Every Circle hospital provides state-of-the-art equipment, superb facilities and some of the most experienced knee surgeons in the country.

In addition, you will also benefit from:

  • Immediate access: With no waiting lists, you can be seen quickly by your preferred doctor, at a time of your choosing. If you’re struggling with knee pain or stiffness, you don’t want to have to wait for weeks (or months) for an appointment with a specialist. At Circle, you won’t be left waiting for help.
  • Advanced diagnostics: Should you require diagnostic imaging of your knee, from X-ray to MRI scan, we can arrange that promptly for you in-house. With some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment available and a consultant radiologist on-site at every Circle hospital, we can provide fast results from any diagnostic test you may need.
  • Experience to rely on: Our knee specialists are among the most experienced in the country in knee arthroscopy and total and partial knee replacement surgery. When you rely on Circle for help with your knee arthritis, you will always be in expert hands.
  • Award-winning hospitals: When you visit with us, you’ll benefit from an unsurpassed level of dedicated care tailored just for you, in award-winning surroundings.

We know that arthritis in the knee can have a significant impact on your life. Whether you are struggling with pain, stiffness, swelling or a reduction in mobility, we believe that it should be easy to get expert help. That is why we have made it very easy to meet with one of our knee specialists. All you need to do is to contact your closest Circle hospital to book an appointment at a convenient time for you. We have no waiting lists, so you won’t need to waste months waiting to see a doctor, while your knee pain gets worse.

Contact us today for help with your knee arthritis. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you to regain pain-free movement and freedom.

Overview of knee arthritis

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Circle Health, 32 Welbeck St, Marylebone, London W1G 8EU