Patients often ask me what to expect after joint replacement surgery. This differs for all patients. As a general rule, the recovery after a hip replacement is easier than the recovery after a knee replacement. In this article, I will focus on knee replacement surgery.

Although it is common for patients around Australia to stay in hospital for 5 days after a joint replacement, this is often not necessary. In fact, patients usually have a better experience if they go home much earlier. Of course, some patients require longer hospital stays and some even need to go to a rehabilitation hospital following their surgery, but this should be in the minority

Once patients are discharged after a knee replacement, they are usually on crutches for a couple of weeks. After this, they progressively are able to walk longer distances more comfortably. It takes around 6 weeks for patients to be relatively comfortable and return to every-day activities. Even after 6 weeks the knee is usually a little bit sore, stiff and swollen. It takes about 2 – 3 months for these things to completely resolve. After this time, the knee continues to feel more ‘natural’ for 12 – 18 months.

Most low-impact activities can safely be resumed after 2- 3 months. This includes activities like golf, yoga and cycling. Some patients resume more intense activities like skiing or surfing but this is not always the case. I discourage patients from repetitive high impact activities such as distance running, as this will cause the implant to wear out more quickly.

If you would like to learn more about what to expect with a joint replacement, please contact my practice or come along to one of our upcoming free education seminars.  

Dr Daevyd Rodda
Orthopaedic Surgeon