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Recovery Tracker

Get Well Soon

Helping you to make a speedy recovery after a total knee replacement 

Days Post Op How you might feel Things you can do safely Fit to work?

1 - 2 days

Your knee may be sore in the first days following the operation, and you will be given strong painkillers to keep you comfortable. Your leg may be heavily bandaged to keep it straight at first. You may also have drainage tubes attached to your leg to remove excess fluid.

The day after your operation, the physiotherapists will get you up and walking with support, as well as bending your new knee.


3 - 7 days

You will still feel pain in your leg, though it will be improving gradually. You will be gaining strength in your leg each day, though you will still need a walking frame or crutches.

You will be in hospital for at least 5 days - and possibly up to 10 days - after your operation. During this time, you will be helped with a series of exercises to continue to build up the strength and the range of movement in your leg. Regular painkillers will be prescribed.


7 - 14 days

You’ll feel a little stronger each day as you do the exercises with the physiotherapist. Any stitches will be removed at some point in the second week after the operation and the dressings will be removed.

Your surgeon and physiotherapist will assess when you’re safe to go home, depending on your progress and how much support you’ll need at home (both in terms of equipment and personal help).


2-6 weeks post-op

You will be back at home by this point, but you will still need to take regular painkilling tablets and it is quite normal to feel some pain. Your leg will still be weak, though improving.

Continue to take the advice of the specialist and build-up your activities gradually. It’s useful to do the exercises at least 3-4 times per day.


6- 8 weeks post-op

If you have a desk job, it’s usually safe to return to work by now. However, if you have a job which is physically demanding, you may need to remain off work for several more weeks. It’s worth talking to your employer about lighter duties you can do without compromising your new knee. Ask your Occupational Health department for advice on returning to work and lighter duties. If you do not have one, ask your GP and surgeon what they would consider to be a safe amount for you to do.

Bear in mind that you may not be able to get to work without using public transport, as this may entail walking quite a long way and climbing on and off buses and trains.

You should have no difficulty with activities like walking, cycling or swimming. Activities that have a high impact on the knee - such as running or heavy lifting - should be avoided.


12 weeks post-op

By now, most people can safely return to work. If your job is so strenuous that it is not suitable for your “new knee”, you may want to talk to your employer about being assigned temporarily to a new role with lighter duties.

Any surgery on your legs means you should be careful about flying, as there will be an increased risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). If you are planning a foreign holiday, it’s best not to fly for at least 12 weeks after this operation. Wearing flight socks is essential.

If you’re still signed-off after 14 weeks, it’s possible that you’re feeling anxious about returning to work and could do with a bit of help from your GP and your employer. If you’re off for too long, there’s a risk of developing problems to do with anxiety, isolation, and lack of confidence. These could affect your quality of life in the long term.




Exercising your 'new knee' is important to make the final result as good as possible - if you don’t exercise it gently, it may become stiff. Follow closely the exercises given to you by your physiotherapist.
There are no set rules or times about when it’s safe to do so other than whether it feels OK to you - treat it like any other physical activity and build up gradually.


When can I have sex?

For many people, being able to have sex again is an important milestone in their recovery. There are no set rules or times about when it’s safe to do so other than whether it feels OK to you - treat it like any other physical activity and build up gradually.

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