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Recovering from a knee replacement

How to recover from a knee replacement

It may take several months or longer to fully recover from a knee replacement. This can vary depending on your age and general health.

Recovery for a partial knee replacement should be shorter than a total knee replacement.

It's important to follow the advice the hospital gives you on looking after your knee to have a good recovery.

Recovering in hospital

After the operation, you'll spend some time in a recovery room where you may be given medicines to help with the pain.

You'll continue to have painkillers in the days after the operation as your knee will be sore.

You'll have help from nurses and physiotherapists to start walking soon after the operation so you can go home as soon as possible. You'll need crutches or a walking frame at first.

Recovering at home

You can usually go home if your wound is healing well and you can safely get around. Most people can leave hospital 1 to 3 days after the operation.

Before you leave, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist will talk to you about managing daily activities and home exercise programmes. Following the exercises early on in your recovery will help with the long-term strength and movement in your knee.

A nurse will take out your stitches or clips after about 10 days. You'll also have a follow-up appointment about 6 weeks after the operation to check you're recovering well.


  • use crutches or walking sticks at first – go down to 1 crutch then a walking stick when you feel confident

  • try walking without an aid after about 6 weeks if you feel ready

  • get up and walk around for 5 minutes every hour to prevent blood clots

  • wait at least 6 weeks to drive again if you've had a total knee replacement or 3 weeks if you've had a partial knee replacement – check with your doctor that you're fit to drive

  • avoid twisting your knee, bending down and reaching up as much as possible

  • follow the exercises your physiotherapist has recommended

  • keep your leg raised as much as possible to reduce swelling

  • return to work when you feel ready – this is usually after about 6 to 12 weeks but will depend on the type of work you do


  • do not sit with your legs crossed for the first 6 weeks

  • do not sleep with a pillow under your knee (you do not need to sleep in a special position after the operation)

  • do not kneel on your new knee until your doctor says you can

  • do not stand for long periods of time as this could cause swelling in your ankles

  • do not do household tasks that involve lifting or moving anything heavy (like vacuuming) for the first 3 months

Page last reviewed: 9 March 2023
Next review due: 9 March 2026