What to expect when in hospital for knee replacement surgery

If you are due to come in for surgery, you may find the information here helpful, written by the British Orthopaedic Association for people waiting for joint replacement and other orthopaedic surgery. It has some frequently asked questions about coming in for surgery and Coronavirus.

Please use the Green Zone entrance (indicated by the blue and yellow star).

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You should bring comfortable clothes such as loose fitting trousers or a skirt and trainers or other sensible shoes with backs; a slightly bigger shoe size than normal is often useful to accommodate any swelling after the operation.

If you have any small aids, please bring these in, for example: 

  • long handled shoe horns
  • leg lifters
  • walking aids.

What to expect

On the day that you arrive for surgery you will be reviewed by several members of staff including the nurse looking after you and the doctors.  You will also be reviewed by a physiotherapist, who will look at your knee strength and movement and explain the exercises and routine following surgery. They will leave you with a zimmer frame to use after your surgery.  

It is normal to feel some pain and discomfort. This will be helped by medication. It is important that you follow the advice given by your nurse and take the pain medication regularly, as this will help with your recovery.

Once you have returned to the ward following surgery and the anaesthetic has worn off, you will be helped to get out of bed by a physiotherapist or a nurse. On the first time getting up, the aim will be to sit in a chair and walk a short distance with the use of a walking frame. Not everyone will achieve this, but you will be guided to do what is best for you. You’ll be offered ice packs to put on your knee to help the pain and swelling. 

You can begin to move your leg and start the exercises you have been taught by the physiotherapists.

Over the next few days, it is important that you get up and dressed every day. A physiotherapist will help you to increase your walking and if you can, you will progress to using elbow crutches.

Exercises

A physiotherapist will review your exercises with you, but it is important that you are also practising these on your own in between.

The aim before discharge is to be able to :

  • bend your knee to 90 degrees
  • lift your leg straight off the bed

If you are ready you can be discharged any time from day 1, but everyone is different. Some people require more time. 

Before you are discharged you will:

  • be confident with everything you need to do at home
  • be safe walking (usually with crutches)
  • have had an X-ray that the surgeon will review
  • be reviewed by the surgical team to check your wound is healthy and healing well
  • have completed practice on stairs
  • be referred to an occupational therapist if you require additional help or equipment
  • be referred for physiotherapy follow up. You should continue with your exercises until you are reviewed

Please click here for further guidance on using walking aids and managing stairs. 

Contact details

Mobile: 07971 980 219   
Email: cavtando.physio@wales.nhs.uk

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