Total knee replacement

What to bring with you?

You should bring into hospital comfortable day 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 pieces of equipment, please bring these in, for example: 
long handled shoe horns, leg lifters and walking aids.

What will happen?

On the day that you come in 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 to look at your knee strength and movement and explain the exercises and routine following the surgery.

After the operation

It is normal to feel some pain and discomfort, which 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 out in a chair and walk a short distance with the use of a walking frame. Not everyone will achieve this the first time, but you will be guided to do what is best for you.

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 used to getting up and dressed every day.

You will increase your walking with a physiotherapist and if you can, you will progress to using elbow crutches.


 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 with the exercises before you are discharged home is to :

  • be able to bend your knee to 90 degrees
  • be able to lift your leg straight off the bed with a less than a 10 degree lag

Most people are discharged on day 3 after surgery, but everyone is different.
You may be discharged sooner or later than this.

Before you are discharged home you will:

  • have had an X-ray that the surgeon will review
  • the surgeon and nursing staff must be happy with you medically, including that your wound is healthy
  • the physiotherapy team will need to be happy that your walking is safe, that you are able to do your exercises and that you will manage at home. If needed you will practice the stairs
  • you may be referred to an occupational therapist if the medical team feel you may benefit from additional help or equipment
  • You will be referred to musculoskeletal outpatient physiotherapy for 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 
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