Bone surgery

Messages to others about knee replacement

The men and women we talked to offered lots of different advice based on their experiences of partial knee replacement surgery. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are some of their suggestions.

Many people recommended a partial knee replacement to those who are eligible and might be considering it. The benefits included being pain-free again and mobile enough to do the activities participants had had to give up because of pain and swelling. This included going for walks, gardening, golf and playing with grandchildren. Some wished they’d had surgery sooner rather than putting up with severe pain. Jennifer, for example, was pleased she’d had surgery to both knees and couldn’t think of any negatives:
Having knee replacement surgery was ‘one of the best things’ that David had done. He said he now has a normal life again in which he can walk and garden without pain. He advises talking to the physio for longer before leaving the hospital to fully understand the exercises. Several people talked about the improvement to their quality of life and a few were now considering having the second knee done.
Several participants cautioned that everyone is different and while some people recover straightforwardly from operations, others may not. Jacky advised people to talk it over with their family as well as the GP. Many advised others to see the GP and ask for a referral if they consistently had knee pain that was getting worse over time, pointing out that knee arthritis is quite common. Once referred, Lesley suggested people take someone with them to the pre-operative assessment as it can be a long day with lots of tests. Having someone there to fetch some lunch or a drink can be helpful. 

Helene, who lives alone, made practical arrangements before going into hospital to make things easier while she was recovering. This included buying soups and other food that was easy to prepare.
Jacky advised others not to be afraid of asking questions if they’re unsure about anything, and Geoff to set goals during recovery.
Some people suggested wearing comfortable clothing and footwear during recovery and whilst exercising. Keith and Alice recommended having sports shoes that are easy to slip on and off:
Many people stressed the importance of doing the exercises recommended by the physiotherapist. Some who’d had both knees replaced strongly recommended doing the exercises even when recovery felt slow.
Other practical tips during recovery included using a raised toilet seat in the first few weeks because bending the knees could be painful. Useful aids that some participants were given by medical staff included bath seats and hand rails.

Lesley was pleased she had knee replacement surgery and, ten weeks after the operation, had a scar that was barely visible. She advised rubbing cream into the knee:
The people we interviewed also had messages for health professionals. Some advised them to think about offering physiotherapy to partial knee replacement patients after surgery. Others felt it was important for professionals to see patients as individuals and to look at the whole person and their history as they may be living with other conditions.
Many praised the care they were given and said they were grateful that their experience had been positive.
Last reviewed August 2018.

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