Post- operative recovery
The aim is to mobilise patients as soon as possible after surgery – on the same day or the next day as this helps speed recovery.
Most patients remain in hospital for three to four days but their is no fixed limit and patients can go home as soon as they can walk safely with elbow crutches and manage whatever tasks they to to perform at home.
Physiotherapy is an integral part of the recovery process and we have physiotherapists who are specifically trainied in the rehabilitation of knee replacement patients. They will guide patients through the recovery process and assess that they are safe for discharge.
Recovering from a knee replacement is hard work in the first few weeks. The knee will feel stiff and sore, this is normal and nothing to worry about and it is important to recognise this and the need to get the knee bending and straightening despite the discomfort.
Patients should aim to increase the range of movement they can achieve on a daily basis and that the only way to increase the range of movement is to push the knee in to the uncomfortable zone as in general whatever movement is achieved in the first few weeks is kept for life and it is extremely difficult to increase the range of movement after his time.
Most patients do not require out-patient physiotherapy but for patients who are finding the recovery process more difficult then further physiotherapy can be of great assistance and will be arranged if necessary.
Key rehabilitation points
Remember that walking will come back naturally and does not need to be pushed.
The range of movement will not and this needs to be worked at.
Patients who try and do too much walking in the weeks after a knee replacement tend to find that this irritates the knee and it becomes more swollen – this swelling can then restrict the range of movement of the knee in the vital few weeks after surgery when the window of opportunity to regain range of movement is still open.
- Three to five days in hospital
- Most patients are able to drive four to six weeks after surgery and discard their elbow crutches during this period.
- Most patients feel better than they did prior to surgery within six weeks
- It takes a year to get the best out of a knee replacement
A knee replacement is successful in relieving all or most or the pain from an arthritic knee in about 90% of cases.
This means that 10% of patients have some pain although most of these feel better off than they did before.
Overall greater than 90% of patients are happy with the result of their knee replacement.
A small percentage of patients sustain a complication that can potentially leave them worse off. In general the level of this risk is approximately 2%.
My aim is to provide each patient with a knee replacement to last their life. Statistics suggest that 90% of knee replacements are still working well ten years down the line.
However they are mechanical devices and will therefore wear out.
The length of time a knee replacement will last in any one individual is very difficult to predict but a good analogy is that of asking how long a new car last in that to a degree it depends on how far and how well you drive it!
Knee replacement is a very routine safe operation with most patients achieving excellent outcomes however there is no such thing as a risk free operation. There are numerous risks, however the overall risk of sustaining a complication that leaves a patient worse off is around 2%.
Some of the specific risks to be considered are:
Infection; at or less than 1%
Neurovascular Injury; less than 1;1000
Stiffness; more common but less of a problem. Occasionally requires a manipulation and can persist in some patients
Risk to life; about 1:1000 mainly- from Deep Vein Thrombosis / Pulmonary embolus and anaesthetic risks