Knee replacement surgery and treatment

For private treatment enquiries call 0333 321 1961

Knee replacement surgery is available at the following locations

What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged knee with an artificial joint. This is shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

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.

Is knee replacement a major surgery?

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

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

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 involves replacing a damaged knee with an artificial implant. This is shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

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

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.

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. These are shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

Partial knee replacement surgery may be suitable for people suffering from osteoarthritis. A sufficient range of motion and intact ligaments around the knee are also needed.

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. 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 surgeon with a clear image of the inside of the knee joint.

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.

Patient testimonial

“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, Practice Plus Group one day knee replacement patient

Causes of needing a knee replacement

The causes of knee injury are most common amongst two groups: the elderly and sportspeople. 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.

What are the signs that I need knee replacement surgery?

An X-ray may reveal a number of issues. These may include:

  • 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).

Knee replacement symptoms

If you experience any of the symptoms listed below 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

Learn how to spot the signs that you may need a knee replacement in our blog.

Knee replacement – what to expect?

Once you know you require knee surgery, you’ll need to decide whether you want to pay for your treatment or use the NHS. If you choose to pay for yourself with Practice Plus Group, the next step is a private knee consultation.

You’ll meet your dedicated orthopaedic surgeon and anaesthetist for a pre-assessment appointment. This will include x-rays of the affected knee. This is your opportunity to ask questions and prepare yourself for the procedure so fire away. Once the clinician has assessed you, you’ll be given a date for surgery.

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.

At Practice Plus Group, we follow the Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP). This is a modern, evidence-based approach that helps people speed up their recovery following major 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.

Preparing for knee surgery replacement

Pre-operative assessment:

A pre-operative assessment is our opportunity to ensure that the procedure for which you have been referred is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment to you and make sure that you are well enough to go ahead with it. It is also your opportunity to meet the orthopaedic surgeon and wider team who will care for you and to ask any questions.

The operation

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.

How long does knee replacement surgery take?

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.

After knee surgery care – in hospital

We practise the Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP). ERP is a modern, evidence-based approach that helps people recover quickly from major surgery.

Our physiotherapists begin working closely with patients within hours of joint replacement surgery. The patients are encouraged to be on their feet. 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.

Knee exercises

Advantages and disadvantages of knee replacement surgery

Advantages of knee replacement

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.

Risks and complications of knee replacement surgery

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.

How successful are knee replacements?

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

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 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.

Knee replacement cost – private surgery

The cost of private knee surgery depends on a number of 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.

Typical cost of knee replacement surgery in the UK

The average cost of knee replacement surgery in the UK is around £11,000 – £12,000. The final cost will depend on the severity of the knee damage and the type of surgery needed.

Ways to pay

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

  1. Pay for yourself
  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.



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treatments carried out a month


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or 'good' ratings by CQC



clean record for hospital acquired infections


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of patients recommend Practice Plus Group

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 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.


As mentioned previously, the success rate is very high. 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.


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.


The majority of knee implants will last about 15 to 20 years.


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 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

See all reviews

Knee surgery – 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 surgery – 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 – 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 – 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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