Knee Replacement – Your Recovery Following Discharge
By the time you leave hospital the replaced knee will be a little swollen and stiff but you will be walking safely usually using either crutches or walking sticks, and be able to climb stairs independently. Of course, you will not be discharged until you are quite safe to be allowed home. Your wound will be checked between 10 and 12 days following the surgery, at which time your skin clips will be removed. The replaced knee often remains a little stiff, swollen and uncomfortable for several weeks following surgery, with aching discomfort sometimes significant enough to disturb sleep. These symptoms usually respond to the use of cold packs and anti inflammatory or pain killing tablets, sometimes supplemented by sleeping tablets. By the time you are reviewed by your surgeon, at around 6 weeks following surgery, you will probably still be walking with 1 stick outdoors. By 3 months the replaced knee should be quiet and reasonably supple and you should be comfortably walking long distances. Symptomatic improvement following knee replacement probably continues for around 12 months. In the early phase following discharge, you should exercise regularly and may require post-operative physiotherapy.
When can I return to work?
The majority of office workers can return within 6 weeks, whilst those with jobs which involve standing or physical work may need between 8 and 12 weeks.
When can I drive?
You may be able to drive about 4 weeks after your operation or even earlier, depending on your general health, which knee has been replaced and whether you drive a manual or automatic car. It should be remembered that some people become drowsy with painkillers. You should be able to do an emergency stop before attempting to drive. Your surgeon and physiotherapist will be able to offer advice.
When can I fly?
We advise patients not to fly short haul for at least 6 weeks following knee replacement and to avoid long haul flight for 3 months. Ideally you should also avoid long haul flight for 2 weeks before your surgery.