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Partial knee replacement surgery

Unicompartmental (partial) knee replacement surgery removes the cause of your knee pain, improving your mobility and quality of life

Bandaging a patients knee joint - potential partial knee replacement patient
Partial knee replacement surgery, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement surgery, is a procedure that replaces one part of your knee with an artificial joint. This is different to total knee replacement, during which a much larger proportion of your knee joint is replaced.

Your knee joint is made up of three components – your femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella (knee cap). For some people, bone damage (most commonly caused by osteoarthritis) is confined to one area of their knee joint. In this instance, it might be possible to treat the damage with partial knee replacement surgery.

The benefits of partial over total knee replacement are that the procedure has a faster recovery time, and that it preserves more healthy bones and ligaments in your knee. The latter fact can lead to a more natural feeling knee in the long term. 

However, both total and partial knee replacement operations have a very high success rate and are very efficient, long-lasting treatments for knee pain. Knee replacements can last for up to 20 years.

If you are living with a painful knee joint that's affecting your quality of life, you’ve landed in the right place. Partial knee replacement surgery could be the best treatment option to help you take control of your health and get you back on your feet, doing the things you love.

This page explains everything you need to know about the surgery, including information on recovery timelines and the benefits of physiotherapy after surgery, as well as how to find out whether this type of knee surgery is the best choice for you.

Partial knee replacement surgery

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Guide price
Hospital fees N/A Not included £12,750 Included £12,750
Consultants fees from £200 N/A Included Included £200
Guide price £12,950
The cost of partial knee replacement surgery with Circle Health Group starts from £13,695*.

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

If you visit one of our orthopaedic consultant surgeons about your knee pain, they will first consider whether there are any appropriate non-surgical methods that could help ease your pain and improve the mobility in your joint.

Non-surgical methods to reduce and manage knee joint pain include:

Oral anti-inflammatories

These can either be prescribed by your GP or your consultant. They reduce swelling in your knee, which can lessen stiffness and pain. Your doctor might also recommend using heat therapy (in the form of icepacks or heat pads) to reduce swelling or numb your joint pain. Heat therapy can be used in addition to anti-inflammatory medication.

Steroid injection therapy

Also known as steroid injection therapy, this treatment involves injections of steroid medication (corticosteroid) into your painful knee. This can effectively reduce pain and inflammation in your knee, and the effects can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. This form of pain relief may be recommended if you can't take oral anti-inflammatories for any reason.


Physiotherapy for joint pain comprises a tailored exercise programme designed to strengthen the muscles around your joints, improving mobility and – in taking the pressure of your joints – reducing your pain. It can be a highly effective treatment and many people see amazing results.

If you have private physiotherapy with Circle Health Group, we will build a custom programme of exercises to help you to strengthen your knee and the surrounding muscles. Our hospitals are all equipped with advanced specialist equipment to help you get the best from your sessions.

If you are interested in physiotherapy and would like to try this before considering surgery, you can refer yourself to any of our physiotherapy departments, without needing a reference from your GP. Call us on 0141 300 5009 to get started. If the physiotherapist you see thinks that you would better benefit from another treatment, whether instead of or alongside their sessions, they can directly refer you to one of our experienced orthopaedic consultants.

If the forms of pain relief listed above do not effectively alleviate your joint pain symptoms, it might be time to speak with an orthopaedic surgeon to discuss the possibility of having partial knee replacement surgery.

Orthopaedics is the medical specialty concerned with the treatment of injuries and disorders of your joints and their associated soft tissues. 'Associated soft tissues' means your ligaments, nerves and muscles. These components make up your musculoskeletal system, which helps to support your bodily functions, protect your skeletal muscles, and aid your movement.

Many different things can cause damage to your musculoskeletal system, most of which can be categorised as either traumatic injuries or medical conditions. This damage can cause pain, inflammation, swelling and stiffness in your affected joint(s), which in turn can dramatically impact your overall quality of life. While pain from an injury or a joint condition may be widespread, it is more often localised in one joint, for example your knee, wrist, ankle or hip.

Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery that concerns injuries and conditions of your musculoskeletal system. Many of our specialists are consultant orthopaedic surgeons, meaning they are highly trained in performing surgical procedures. However, if we can avoid performing surgery and use less invasive methods instead, this is normally our preference. We don't recommend surgery unless it's definitely the best option for you.

You can usually see an orthopaedic specialist for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us. Give us a call on 0141 300 5009 and we'll help you find an appointment time that suits you.

During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask in detail about your general health and your medical history. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They'll ask how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your pain, your consultant will next carry out a gentle physical examination of your knee. In some cases, they might also send you to have an X-ray, which will be done onsite by one of our radiologists. All of this helps your consultant to make a diagnosis of the cause of your pain.

Once they have identified what's causing your problems, they will share more information about partial knee replacement surgery and whether it could be the right treatment for you.

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey towards improved mobility and reduced joint pain. It's where we start to get to know you as an individual and it's from the information that we gather during this session that we will start building a treatment plan, bespoke to your needs. To make the most of the initial consultation, you should feel free to talk as openly and honestly as you like about the pain and other symptoms you're experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from surgery. 

How long will I wait for knee replacement surgery?

The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and having knee replacement surgery (or any other treatment you're recommended) will differ from person to person. For example, someone who has suffered a traumatic injury may need to be seen very quickly. You should not expect to be waiting a long time, and we don't delay or reschedule treatment except in emergencies.

Your surgeon will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you've agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery at a time that suits you.

There is a broad range of symptoms that could indicate you need partial knee replacement surgery. These include:

  • Knee pain when exercising and walking
  • Knee pain during sex
  • Stiffness and restriction of movement
  • Knee pain at night
  • An inability to support your bodyweight on one leg
  • Knee swelling and redness
  • Limited relief from other treatment options

These symptoms can be caused by various conditions, including: 


Osteoarthritis is when the smooth cartilage across the surface of your knee joint wears down over time. You'll sometimes hear it referred to as wear and tear arthritis, and it's more common the older we get. The wear and tear can make your joint very painful and stiff and can really reduce your mobility.

This is the most common type of arthritis both in the UK and worldwide and it is the most common reason why people have knee replacement surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) currently affects more than 400,000 people in the UK. It is an inflammatory joint condition caused by an autoimmune process, which happens when your body attacks its healthy cells by mistake. This often causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in your joints. Joints affected by RA are commonly surrounded by inflamed tissue, which often results in chronic pain.

A knee fracture

Knee fractures are usually caused by a traumatic injury such as an injury during contact sports, but they can sometimes happen because of a condition that weakens your knee bone, for example osteoporosis.

Septic arthritis

This is a much less common form of arthritis. It's a severe joint infection that can be caused by a traumatic injury to your joint, including a bite or wound. It can also happen as the result of an infection following surgery. Septic arthritis requires immediate medical attention. The damage caused by septic arthritis can lead to the need for partial or total knee replacement surgery.

Partial knee replacement surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, meaning you will not be awake during the procedure. The operation takes around 90 minutes.

During the procedure, your consultant will begin by making a small incision across your knee. They will remove the damaged component of your knee using a specialist instrument, replacing it with an artificial component known as a prosthesis. This is typically made of a metal-plastic bearing combination and fitted with a special cement. Next, your consultant will close your wound using either stitches or clips. They will apply dressing across your wound to prevent it from getting infected.

Robotic partial knee replacement surgery

At Circle Health Group, you can have a robotics-assisted partial knee replacement using the NAVIO Surgical system. The handheld robotic system helps your consultant perform surgery with greater precision and alignment than during traditional surgery. 

During the procedure, the robotics will move as they do, combining innovative technology with the skill of a specialist orthopaedic consultant. Your consultant remains in control of the system throughout the duration of your procedure, making all incisions and resections with the use of the robotic arm and the data provided. 

While traditional knee replacement surgery is safe and highly effective, this advanced technology has a broad range of additional benefits, including a faster recovery time.

Kneecap joint replacement surgery

A kneecap replacement operation is a procedure to replace the patella (kneecap) in the knee joint. It is a type of partial knee replacement surgery, though it’s often called something different. So, you might hear it referred to as patellofemoral replacement or patellofemoral arthroplasty. Patellofemoral refers to the section of the knee that includes the kneecap and the groove in the thigh bone in which the kneecap sits.

Every individual's partial knee replacement recovery timeline looks slightly different. The factors that will affect your personal recovery include:

  • How fit you were before surgery
  • Your job and whether it is physical
  • Your usual everyday activities
  • Your age
  • Your general health and fitness

Your orthopaedic surgeon will understand your personal circumstances better and be able to advise what your specific recovery timeline looks like.

One to two days after surgery

You will be encouraged to get out of bed and walk as soon as you can after surgery, though you'll need to use walking aids such as crutches or a walker. Your physiotherapist will be there to help you get out of bed and take your first steps following the operation. Generally, you will be able to stand within 12 to 24 hours after the surgery.

Most people can leave hospital after one or two days, but you won't be able to drive for a while, so we recommend you ask a friend or family member to come and collect you. Or of course you can go home in a taxi, and we'll be happy to arrange one for you.

Within two weeks, you will be able to walk more regularly, but you will still need to use a walking aid.

Two to six weeks after surgery

You can start incorporating gentle exercise back into your routine after two to six weeks. It's different for everyone, and your surgeon and physiotherapist will have explained to you what to do and how to know when you're ready. Going on long, slow walks can really help you build up your fitness and mobility again.

You can also usually return to work at this stage, depending on the type of work you do. Most people with office jobs are able to go back into work, but if you have a manual or physical job you might need more time off. Again, your consultant will have talked you through all these factors.

Most people can return to normal leisure activities six weeks after surgery. However, it can take two months or so for pain and swelling to settle down. This can be effectively managed with traditional painkillers, allowing you to get on with your life and continue your physiotherapy exercises.

Eight weeks after surgery

You should speak to your consultant about whether you can drive again, as this will depend on the progress of your personal recovery. It is usually safe when you can bend your knee enough to get in and out of a car and control the vehicle safely. You should also talk to your car insurance provider, as they may have specific rules about when you can drive after surgery.

You can have sex about eight weeks after surgery, but you should do this carefully. You may well not feel ready to have sex at eight weeks post-surgery, and that's absolutely fine. Recovery is about listening to your body.

Twelve weeks after surgery

Six to 12 weeks after surgery, you should be well on the way to a full recovery and able to carry out everyday activities with ease.

Physiotherapy after partial knee replacement surgery

Physiotherapy is a very important part of your recovery journey at Circle Health Group. How well you follow the guidance of your physiotherapist can have a huge impact on how well and how quickly you recover. 

You will meet your physiotherapist at the hospital after your operation, if not before. They will get to know you and your individual circumstances, and they'll tailor our specialised recovery programme so that it's bespoke to you. This plan will be made up of exercises to strengthen your knee muscles and improve your mobility and the range of motion in your knee. These exercises can accelerate your recovery. 

Your physiotherapist will let you know how regularly you should do these exercises outside of your sessions, and they'll help you source ant equipment you might need to help you do them. They'll also give you advice on how to incorporate exercise into your daily routine at home, so that your physiotherapy becomes a normal part of your day.

Taking care of your new knee

There are several ways you can take of your new knee to ensure it lasts as long as possible. This includes:

  • Taking prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatories to manage swelling and pain after surgery
  • Following the exercise routine set by your physiotherapist
  • Wearing supportive shoes when outdoors
  • Not sitting with your legs crossed for up to six weeks after surgery
  • Using your walking aids when needed

Scarring after surgery

A partial knee replacement scar is natural. It's the mark to show where your surgeon made the incision to gain access to your knee, and it's an unavoidable side-effect of surgery. Its size depends on the size of your knee, as well as the type of surgery you had. 

Whatever you scar looks like at this stage in your recovery from surgery, try not to focus on it too much. The scar tissue will heal and fade naturally over time. There may be ways that you can accelerate the healing of your scar tissue. Speak to your orthopaedic surgeon if you are interested in learning more.

It is important to remember that complications from knee replacement surgery are rare and that there are risks attached to any surgery. Most people who have a partial knee replacement operation will not experience complications.

Potential complications during any surgical procedure include:

  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Chest infection
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Specific complications that can occur during a partial knee replacement surgery include:

  • Persistent pain after surgery
  • Damage to your nerves
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Infection in your knee
  • Bone forming in the muscles around your knee replacement
  • Loosening of your joint

Serious complications as a result of partial knee replacement surgery are rare. If you have any concerns about these, speak with your consultant. They will be able to discuss the likelihood with you in more detail and put your worries at ease.

We answer some frequently asked questions about partial knee replacement surgery.

Can a partial knee replacement come loose?

Although knee replacements are firmly fitted and can last for up to 20 years, they can loosen over time. If this does happen, you will need revision surgery to remove the previous prosthesis and replace it with a new one.

Can you run after a partial knee replacement?

You should be able to return to normal leisure activities, including running and jogging, around six weeks after your surgery. But everyone recovers differently, and you should avoid high-impact activities until your consultant advises otherwise.

How long does a partial knee replacement last?

Knee replacements regularly last 20 years or more.

How much does a partial knee replacement cost in the UK?

The cost of partial knee replacement surgery varies across the UK, but the average is around £12,500. At Circle Health Group, the price of partial knee replacement surgery will differ depending on factors including which hospital you have treatment at, and what type of implant your consultant uses. We offer flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your payment over a time that suits you. To find out more about the process of paying for your treatment, you can speak to a member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009.

What does a partial knee replacement look like?

A knee replacement is a metal-plastic bearing combination that physically replicates whichever part of your knee is being replaced. After surgery, your knee should look much the same as before. 

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:   

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs  
  • Private en-suite rooms as standard 
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end  
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included  
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you want to know more about partial knee replacement surgery and find out if it's the right treatment for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

What is a partial knee replacement?

Are you considering having partial knee replacement surgery?

In this video, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Graeme Hopper, talks through what a partial knee replacement is, and what to expect from having one.

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