The men and women we talked to offered lots of different advice based on their experiences of partial knee replacement surgery. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Here are some of their suggestions.
Many people recommended a partial knee replacement to those who are eligible and might be considering it. The benefits included being pain-free again and mobile enough to do the activities participants had had to give up because of pain and swelling. This included going for walks, gardening, golf and playing with grandchildren. Some wished they’d had surgery sooner rather than putting up with severe pain. Jennifer, for example, was pleased she’d had surgery to both knees and couldn’t think of any negatives:
It’s wonderful’ to go for walks and sleep properly at night. Jennifer advises people not to put up with knee pain because something can be done about it.
Nancy could hardly walk before her first knee operation and the pain was getting unbearable. Shes had both knees done now and said it’s been brilliant.
Having knee replacement surgery was “one of the best things” that David had done. He said he now has a normal life again in which he can walk and garden without pain. He advises talking to the physiotherapist for longer before leaving the hospital, to fully understand the exercises.
Several people talked about the improvement to their quality of life and a few were now considering having the second knee done.
Before surgery Phillip couldn’t walk the dogs, play golf or kick the ball with his grandson. Surgery is painful but the transformation is unbelievable.
Several participants cautioned that everyone is different and while some people recover straightforwardly from operations, others may not. Jacky advised people to talk it over with their family as well as the GP. Many advised others to see the GP and ask for a referral if they consistently had knee pain that was getting worse over time, pointing out that knee arthritis is quite common.
Once referred, Lesley suggested people take someone with them to the pre-operative assessment as it can be a long day with lots of tests. Having someone there to fetch some lunch or a drink can be helpful.
Helene, who lives alone, made practical arrangements before going into hospital to make things easier while she was recovering. This included buying soups and other food that was easy to prepare.
Helene stocked up on food and filled the freezer before surgery. She also recommends doing the exercises as often as possible and sticking with them.
Jacky advised others not to be afraid of asking questions if they’re unsure about anything, and Geoff to set goals during recovery.
Jacky couldn’t fault the professionals who cared for her. They were encouraging and helpful. She advises people to ask them questions.
You need to increase the exercises gradually. Geoff recommends setting small goals and building up to doing more. He felt much better within ten weeks.
Some people suggested wearing comfortable clothing and footwear during recovery and whilst exercising. Keith and Alice recommended having sports shoes that are easy to slip on and off:
Keith bought some sports shorts, a lightweight tracksuit bottom and slip-on shoes that were easy and comfortable to wear when exercising and icing his knee.
Many people stressed the importance of doing the exercises recommended by the physiotherapist. Some who’d had both knees replaced strongly recommended doing the exercises even when recovery felt slow.
It’s important not to get disheartened if recovery feels slow. Penelope had both knees replaced and it’s been very good’ both times.
Surgery is painful and recovery takes time, but it’s important to listen to the doctors. Joan wished someone had told her this beforehand.
Other practical tips during recovery included using a raised toilet seat in the first few weeks because bending the knees could be painful. Useful aids that some participants were given by medical staff included bath seats and hand rails.
Lesley was pleased she had knee replacement surgery and, 10 weeks after the operation, had a scar that was barely visible. She advised rubbing cream into the knee:
After the staples and dressing were removed, Lesley had dry skin. She massaged her knee and the top of the thigh with body lotion.
The people we interviewed also had messages for health professionals. Some advised them to think about offering physiotherapy to partial knee replacement patients after surgery.
Others felt it was important for professionals to see patients as individuals and to look at the whole person and their history as they may be living with other conditions.
Peter recommends listening to the doctor’s advice. If exercising feels painful, try it again later. Professionals should make sure patients leave with the correct medications.
Many praised the care they were given and said they were grateful that their experience had been positive.