Answers to common questions after knee replacement

How long will I be in hospital after knee replacement?

The length of time recovering in hospital can vary from person to person. On average after a knee replacement you should be ready to transfer to rehab or go home after 4 to 5 days. At the Mater Hospital, the ward doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will take good care of you. They are briefed on the specific protocols to be followed for patients of Professor Walter. The hospital nurses and administrative staff will help you make arrangements for your discharge. Hospital staff will also talk to you about your rehabilitation options after your surgery, once they have assessed your progress. Arrangements for rehabilitation are made by the nursing staff.

When can I swim or do hydrotherapy?

Patients can proceed with hydrotherapy 4 weeks after surgery if they meet the following criteria:

  • Wound is clean and dry with no scabs, drainage or blisters
  • Wound is reviewed by rehabilitation physician prior to doing hydrotherapy.

Please contact the office if you are at all concerned about participating in hydrotherapy.

Can I kneel after knee replacement surgery?

Yes you can kneel, however most people find this uncomfortable. There is no mechanical reason why you shouldn’t kneel.

When can I remove my dressing?

Generally, a wound from knee replacement surgery requires very little care. All sutures are dissolvable and do not require removal. Before leaving the hospital, your dressing will be changed. It is important to keep the wound dry.  The dressing can be removed after 14 days from the day of surgery.

 Do I have to wear compression (TED) stockings?

A/Professor Walter is up-to-date with recent research and does not require routine wearing of compression stockings. However, if there is swelling or a history of DVT (deep venous thrombosis) or pulmonary embolism you will be asked to wear them for a period of time.

How soon can I drive after knee replacement?

The Roads & Traffic Authority recommends you should generally not drive for six weeks following a knee replacement.  In order to be safe driving a car after a knee replacement, you must be able to control the pedals properly and you must not be taking strong pain medications that could impair your judgement or reaction time. As you get to the six-week mark, ask yourself if you would be able to stop quickly if a pedestrian ran in front of your vehicle. If you feel you could not react quickly enough, wait a little longer.

When can I resume to my normal leisure activities?

During the first six weeks after your surgery, we recommend limiting your activities to walking with support, gentle swimming in the shallow end once you have been given permission to get the wound wet. We recommend you refrain from exercises such as pilates, golf and social tennis until three months after the date of your surgery. If you are enthusiastic about a particular sport, please seek instructions from A/Prof Walter.

How soon can I have sex after knee replacement?

You can have intercourse whenever you feel ready, although you are advised to be the “passive” partner during the first six weeks.

How soon can I fly after knee replacement?

It is usually safe to take a short flight a week after surgery as long as you do not have blood clots in your legs. Long flights are best avoided during the first few months after surgery, as there is a risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). If you must travel, we recommend you wear TED stockings, mobilise throughout the flight as much as possible and if possible keep your legs elevated when seated during the flight. If it is necessary to travel long distances, then speak to your GP or A/Prof Walter prior to doing so.

Will I set off alarms at the airport?

Yes you may set off the alarms however you can alert the security staff that you have a metal implant, and let them know where it is in your body. You will likely be screened with a metal detecting wand, but security sees many patients with these types of implants, and you shouldn’t be delayed.

 Should I tell my dentist that I’ve had a knee replacement?

After a knee replacement, (even years after your surgery) pay particular attention to infections anywhere on the body, and deal with them immediately. Pay special attention to tooth decay and mouth infections, as these may be a cause of infection in joint replacement.  If you need to visit your dentist, tell them you have had a joint replacement and give them a copy of the current advice from the Arthroplasty Society of Australia, which outlines recommendations for mouth care after joint replacement surgery.

 When do I see A/Prof Walter for follow up appointments?

Your first post-op appointment will be at 6 weeks after your knee replacement. Please bring ALL your x-rays, including a fresh X-Ray taken as close to that appointment as possible. You do not need a new referral if you are coming for your six-week post-operative check up. This appointment does not incur a fee.

After a knee replacement surgery A/Professor Walter will ask you to come back for a follow up appointment at 6 months, 2 years, 5 years and every five years after that.  It is important that you come back for these check-up appointments, even if you are perfectly happy with your implant.

After a knee arthroscopy surgery A/Professor Walter will usually ask you to come back 10 – 14 days after surgery so that sutures can be removed and the wound can be checked. You will need to come back 3 months after your surgery. Further follow up appointments may be advised after that.

Please check to see if any Xray is required for this appointment.

I don’t live in Sydney. Do I have to go to Pre-admission clinic at the hospital?

It is advisable that all our patients see the nurses at the pre-admission clinic prior to surgery.  If you live interstate or in regional NSW a telephone interview can be arranged.