Knee replacement surgery explained

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From knee replacement in Plymouth to knee surgery in East London – we offer affordable, high-quality surgery around the UK, helping you to find a healthcare provider with shorter wait times conveniently located for you.

Knee replacement waiting times

At Practice Plus Group, the average waiting time for private knee surgery is 4-6 weeks.

What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged knee with an artificial joint shaped to allow continued motion of the knee. This is a common operation that can help to relieve pain and restore mobility.

During the procedure, the damaged cartilage is removed and replaced with metal implants. These are often cemented into the bone. A plastic spacer is then inserted between the metal components to create a smooth surface.

Types of knee replacement treatments

The type of treatment you need will depend on the damage sustained to your knee. There are several different types of treatment available to suit your needs.

Total knee replacement surgery

Total knee replacement surgery is for people whose knees are severely damaged by arthritis or injury. It’s suitable for those who find it difficult to perform simple daily activities like walking or climbing stairs. It’s also for those who might be experiencing long term knee pain when sitting or lying down.

Partial knee replacement surgery

Partial knee replacement surgery involves replacing only the diseased or damaged joint surfaces in the knee with metal and plastic components.

Partial knee replacement surgery may be suitable for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Although similar to a total knee replacement, this procedure doesn’t interfere with healthy cartilage or bone. Instead, the implant only replaces damaged parts of the knee. The recovery period lasts around three weeks.

Knee replacement keyhole surgery

Keyhole surgery – sometimes called ‘knee arthroscopy’ – is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes two very small holes on either side of the kneecap.

One of the holes is used to pass the surgical instruments into the knee, while the other is for the arthroscope. This is a thin, flexible tube containing a light and a camera. This provides the knee surgeon with a clear image of the inside of the knee joint.

Knee replacement and resurfacing – what’s the difference?

Knee resurfacing is a very similar procedure to knee replacement, but with a slight difference:

Knee replacement surgery replaces the entire knee joint (outer, inner and kneecap) with an artificial joint, whereas during knee resurfacing surgery (sometimes referred to as Patella resurfacing), your orthopaedic surgeon will aim to preserve any healthy bone you have in the compartments of your knee, only replacing the damaged sections.

Knee replacement surgery alternatives

Total knee replacements are a very successful procedure. However, before operating, other measures are usually tried first. These include:

  • rest or reduced activity
  • pain-relieving medication
  • anti-inflammatory medication (if no contra-indications)
  • physiotherapy
  • weight loss.

A steroid injection can give temporary relief, while some patients may benefit from minor arthroscopic (keyhole) procedures.

“It was fantastic: it all went very well and I was delighted that I had the opportunity to have surgery and be back home the same day. Everyone feels better recovering in their own home. I am also very happy not to have a general anaesthetic, as I have had them several times and did not like the after effects.

“Having met the team, I knew they were kind, professional and supportive. I was relaxed and confident about the surgery and looking forward to being pain-free.”

Adrian Roke, knee replacement patient
Adrian Roke
One day knee replacement patient

Who is knee replacement for?

Knee replacements can be needed by people of any age, however, age, genetics and previous injury increase the likelihood of needing a joint replacement.

Older people are more likely to suffer from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis that lead to a breakdown of the knee tissue. For sportspeople, a sudden change of direction and general overexertion can cause knee ligaments to fray or rupture. In both cases, knee replacement surgery is often needed to repair wear and tear of the knee joint.

What are the signs that I need knee replacement surgery?

An X-ray may reveal a number of issues such as:

  • bone touching bone with no remaining cartilage
  • extra bone lumps around the joint (osteophytes)
  • cavities or cysts in the bone (geodes)
  • hardening of arthritic bone (sclerosis).

If you experience any of these knee symptoms and you are not treated, you run the risk of the following problems:

  • weakened muscles and ligaments of the knee
  • deformity of the area outside the knee joint
  • limited mobility due to chronic knee pain and loss of function
  • continued degeneration of the knee joint
  • reduced success rate of any future knee surgery.

When should I seek treatment for my knee?

For many people, only a knee replacement can relieve pain.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you may need knee replacement surgery:

  • severe or increasing pain or stiffness
  • chronic knee inflammation and swelling
  • knee deformity and loss of function
  • pain at rest and pain at night
  • ‘bowing’ of the leg
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs no longer provide relief from pain.

Knee replacement – what to expect?

Preparing for knee surgery replacement

The first step is a private knee consultation. You’ll meet your dedicated orthopaedic surgeon and anaesthetist for a pre-operative assessment appointment. This will include x-rays of the affected knee.

This is your opportunity to talk about your general health and medical history, ask questions and prepare yourself for the procedure. Once the clinician has assessed you, you’ll be given a date for surgery.

Try to stay active before your surgery to increase strength and speed up the recovery process. Find more tips on preparing for surgery here.

Knee replacement procedure

You’ll be given a general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep during the procedure. During the surgery itself, the worn ends of the bones in your knee joint are removed and replaced with metal and plastic parts. This is called a prosthesis specially made to fit your knee. The type of surgery you have (total or partial replacement) will depend on how damaged your knee is.

Knee replacements are called knee arthroplasty and are a resurfacing procedure. In osteoarthritis, trauma and inflammatory arthritis, the smooth, low-friction, cartilage that cushions the joint is lost. In knee replacement surgery the damaged surfaces are removed and the thigh bone surface is covered with a smooth metal dome.

The shin bone surface is covered with a metal tray. A medical-grade plastic spacer is then fitted which functions as the smooth bearing surface on which the bone glides. The patella can also be resurfaced with a plastic button.

Our expert talking on day case arthroplasties:
“For a certain subset of patients it’s an excellent option. It allows the patient to go home the same day. Recovery at home is always more comfortable.”

Gyorgy Lovasz, knee replacement surgeon
Gyorgy Lovasz
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Recovering from knee replacement in hospital

At Practice Plus Group, we follow the Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP). This is a modern, evidence-based approach that helps you speed up your recovery following knee replacement surgery.

The ERP champions the many advantages of day surgery knee replacement. With this support, you will be mobile enough to go home one or two days after your operation. Some people are able to return home on the day of surgery.

After surgery in the recovery room, our physiotherapists begin working closely with you within hours of your joint replacement surgery. You will be encouraged to be on your feet to prevent blood clots and encourage faster healing. The length of stay at our private hospitals can be significantly shorter as a result.

Early mobilisation and a return home reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis and infections. It can also make patients feel more comfortable. With this support you will be mobile enough to go home two to four days after your operation. You will be given exercises and instructions on how to use mobility aids such as crutches and sticks.

Knee replacement recovery time at home

You will need to rest when you return home and you are likely to feel tired in the first six weeks. Pain relief (analgesia), icepacks, elevation and a programme of rehabilitation are normal. By 10 to 12 weeks most patients are doing well, though knee replacements often improve for up to 18 months after surgery.

Learn more about recovery from knee replacement.

Knee exercises

The benefits of private knee replacement surgery

The main benefit of private knee surgery is the reduced waiting time. The NHS currently aims to get patients into surgery within 18 weeks of their initial consultation. However, the COVID pandemic has meant that some patients are facing greatly increased waiting times. The current waiting time for knee replacement surgery at Practice Plus Group is between two and four weeks.

Private knee replacement cost in the UK

The price of knee replacement surgery can vary depending on several factors. These include the location of the hospital, the type of surgery, and the chosen healthcare provider. As a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay anything from £5,000-15,000 for your knee surgery.

The cost of our knee replacement surgery is from £11,200 plus £95 for the consultation. This is around £2,000 cheaper than some of our closest competitors.

What’s included?

  • initial consultation with a knee replacement specialist
  • treatment plan (including your surgery)
  • any post-operative medication and physiotherapy

Ways to pay

There are 3 ways to access knee replacement at Practice Plus Group:

  1. Self-pay knee surgery
  2. Private health insurance
  3. NHS referral

Why choose Practice Plus Group

At Practice Plus Group Hospitals, we’re passionate about giving patients a positive experience and excellent clinical outcomes, with personalised care every step of the way. Whether you’re paying for yourself or using private medical insurance, with our short waiting times, unrivalled Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings and high levels of cleanliness and infection control, we’ll make sure you’re looked after. In fact, we were the first provider to have all services rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC.

References
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Knee surgery Q&A with Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mariusz Korycki

What are the benefits of knee surgery?

What are the benefits of knee surgery?

Is knee surgery a major operation?

Is knee replacement a major operation?

How soon can I have knee surgery?

How soon can I have knee surgery?

What happens after my operation?

What happens after my operation?

How long does a knee replacement take?

How long does a knee operation take?

What should I do in recovery?

What should I do in recovery?

How active can I be after my knee operation?

How active can I be after my knee operation?

How soon will I be able to drive?

How soon will I be able to drive?

How long will my knee replacement last?

How long will my knee replacement last?

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Your knee replacement operation questions answered


Not quite found the information you’re looking for? Our FAQ section may be able to help!

Knee replacement is a major surgery but isn’t considered high-risk. In fact, the success rate is very high.

If you have any doubts or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your orthopaedic surgeon.

According to an NHS survey from 2020, 75% of patients said they felt a lot better following their operation. 15% reported feeling a little better, while just 5% said they felt worse. 1

Knee replacement surgery can take between one and two hours and is usually carried out with a spinal anaesthetic. Patients can also have a short-lasting intravenous sedative, so they snooze during the procedure, but recovery is enhanced having avoided a full general anaesthetic.

Aside from the high success rates for knee replacement surgery, there are many other benefits for patients to enjoy. Improved mobility and stability can allow you to return to some of the activities you enjoyed before your injury.
The other big advantage is simply a better quality of life. The ability to move about with more freedom and the absence of pain cannot be understated. This is also likely to have a positive effect on your mental health and wellbeing.

With any major surgery, there is a small risk of complications. These are always discussed in detail with you beforehand. Programmes of care and hospital routines are regularly revised to minimise these occurrences. This means issues such as pulmonary embolism (blood clot) and deep infection are rare.
After a total knee replacement, the knee will always feel a little mechanical. Proprioception (natural stability) can be reduced in some situations but a good functional range of movement is the norm. For the vast majority of patients, a knee replacement is the most effective procedure for providing pain relief for an arthritic knee.

Knee replacement surgery doesn’t tend to be recommended before the age of 50. This, however, does depend on the severity of the damage to the knee and is sometimes necessary for younger people. The typical age of a knee replacement patient is between 50-80.

 

Knee surgery can relieve the pain of arthritis, but unfortunately cannot cure it.

 

The operation itself isn’t painful as you’ll be under anaesthetic. Some pain and discomfort is likely in the hours and days after the operation. However, this is usually managed with prescribed pain relief and exercise.

 

The answer to this depends on a number of factors. The amount of pain you’re in should be taken into account, along with the amount of money you’re willing to spend. The value of a total knee replacement will also depend on the severity of the knee damage, your age, and the recommendation of your physio or doctor.

 

Every patient will recover at different rates. However, there are still some things you can do to help speed up the process:

  • Walk frequently (when permitted by your doctor)
  • Follow your doctor or physiotherapist’s exercises and advice
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

The activities to avoid after a knee replacement are those that carry a high-risk of falling. Sports such as rugby, football and skiing should be avoided as these could cause damage to the new implant. Activities involving a lot of running and jumping should also be avoided, as well as sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Swimming, golf, walking and cycling after a knee replacement are all excellent options to explore to keep fit.

Once you’ve had your surgery, it’s important that you work to protect your new artificial knee joint. The following are some hints and tips for helping protect and strengthen your knee:

  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the stress on your joints
  • Strengthen the muscles around the knee
  • Stay as flexible as possible to stop your muscles getting tight
  • Maintain a healthy diet for your overall health.

Ways to pay

Headshot of Nurul Ahad

Acknowledgements

This article was completed with the help of Mr Nurul Ahad, Medical Director and Orthopaedic Surgeon at Practice Plus Group. Mr Ahad graduated from Barts and the London School of Medicine before being appointed Trauma Consultant at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals in 2010. His expertise has led to several publications and international presentations. With over 15 years of experience in orthopaedic surgery, he has a proven track record of delivering an excellent quality of service. Over the last few years Practice Plus Group has grown its Marketing Team to include art workers, campaign and social media managers, content editors, and digital analysts. Together, they provide a responsive and comprehensive service, ensuring all content is on-brand and in-line with relevant medical guidelines.
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Knee replacement testimonials

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Knee replacement, Emersons Green – excellent care throughout

I had a uni-knee replacement operation on 20th February and six weeks later I am very pleased with it. I had excellent care throughout my stay and everything matched or exceeded my expectations. Although paying for it myself was daunting I am glad I had the op and the certainty of a set fee made it less worrying. I would recommend Practice Plus at Emersons Green to anyone else who can afford not to wait for an NHS operation.
by Amanda May, Google

Knee surgery, Plymouth – leading an active life once again

Thanks for performing total knee replacement on me. Due to your excellent skills I am improving daily and leading an active life once again!

by Chris Roberts

Knee replacement, Southampton – absolutely wonderful

I had a knee replacement in May 2022. I have to say that all of the staff from the consultant, the nursing staff and the entire team were absolutely wonderful.

by Susan Farmer

Knee surgery, Barlborough – amazing facility

This was my 2nd time as an inpatient at Barlborough for knee replacement surgery and in my opinion you couldn’t have this surgery at a better place. It is truly outstanding.

by Joy Lesley Wright

Knee surgery, Emersons Green – friendly and highly professional

October 2020 I had total knee replacement, NHS referral. My experience was excellent…everyone was caring, listening and very professional.

by Anonymous

Knee surgery – from start to finish my treatment by all was amazing

I had a Partial Knee Replace at this hospital on the NHS. From start to finish my treatment by all was amazing. I cannot praise the care I had enough. The nurses are so friendly and caring. The hospital was very clean. A good choice of food. Highly recommend.

by Audrey Hartley, Google

Knee surgery – so much care and compassion

I recently had a total knee replacement operation at Shepton Mallett hospital, and there are not enough words to describe what an amazing place it is.
Everyone I came into contact with from the beginning of my referral has been so positive. So much care and compassion, I cannot thank you all enough you are all angels.

by Carol Ison, Google

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