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.
Dr Daevyd Rodda