The actual surgery takes about one and a quarter to one and a half hours, says Dr. Clark. The recovery is, naturally, a much longer process.
“Usually the patients will find that the first night is quite difficult,” says Dr. Clark, adding that in the first two weeks, the pain can sometimes be worse than it was before the surgery.
Then, by six weeks, the pain might be back to what it was before the surgery, or already better.
“From there onwards, the knee will continue to gradually improve,” explains Dr. Clark. “Usually, about 12 or 18 months later, you will reach your maximum. Most of the recovery comes in the first few weeks. But there is still slow recovery that happens after that.”
How long will you be in hospital after knee replacement surgery?
Patients are usually in the hospital for only two nights. “Almost all of the recovery will happen outside of the hospital,” Dr. Clarke says.
“In the hospital, we have the knee put in, it’s firmly placed and ready to go, but because the knee has just been through a big surgery it will be very swollen and sore, and then the recovery begins after that.”
“The vast majority of the recovery takes place at home.”
What you can do and what not to do after knee replacement
Many people are wondering what are some of the things that a person should avoid doing immediately after knee replacement surgery. How long before you can walk, kneel, or drive are common concerns.
“You can walk on the same day of surgery,” Dr. Clark says. There is no limit to the amount of walking or distance walked, as it varies from person to person.
“At six weeks, you can usually start driving again if you can safely control the vehicle and the doctor says it’s okay.”
However, Dr. Clark stresses the fact that patients will have to take it easy for the first 6–8 weeks. “You’re not going to do the knee any damage,” he reassures, and “there’s no restriction on the knee per se, but you really just need to do your physiotherapy and take it easy for the first six weeks.”
Regarding flying and air travel, Dr. Clark advises that patients consider the risk of blood clots when making the decision to fly. “There are no fixed restrictions, but you just need to consider [...] the risk [and make sure] you are happy to travel.”
Can you kneel after a knee replacement?
Dr. Clark explains that, while it is perfectly safe to kneel once you’ve recovered from knee replacement surgery, most people with arthritis avoid kneeling due to their underlying condition.
“There's nothing to stop you and there's no rule that says ‘you can't kneel’ [after knee replacement], but most people don't like it because it feels unpleasant.”
How long does a knee replacement last?
Total joint replacement typically lasts between 15 and 20 years.
Most current data suggests that once you have a total joint replaced, you will have a 90–95% probability that the joint will last 10 years and an 80–85% probability that it will last 20 years.
However, more recent research appearing in The Lancet has examined several national registries across the globe and concluded that over 82% of all total knee replacements last 25 years.