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Should I Have A Knee Replacement? …That Is The Million Dollar Question!

Knee Surgery

As a Physiotherapist who has spent a lot of time in Orthopaedic hospitals and clinics, I have seen hundreds if not thousands of Knee Replacements. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly and through all this experience one thing has become clear to me – if you want a successful outcome you have got to be prepared to work for it.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to have a joint replacement. Most people spend a long time trying to avoid it!! You put up with the pain, take painkillers, try physiotherapy exercise programmes and reduce normal daily activities to try to keep away from the operating theatre. But there may come a time where all this isn’t working anymore, and your doctor will say those words… “YOU NEED A KNEE REPLACEMENT”.

A lot of people still see this as an ‘old persons’ operation, but there is an increasingly young and active population needing knee replacement surgery. Especially with the large numbers of people having Partial Knee Replacements or Patella (Knee cap) Replacements instead of the more historically common Total Knee Replacement.

So, this operation needs to be a success… as you want your active, happy life back for many years to come.

Which brings me back to my original point, if you need knee joint surgery and you want to return to doing all your favourite things, YOU have to work at it with your physiotherapist.

Is it going to hurt after surgery? The simple answer is YES!

Is that pain going to get better?…YES

...but only if you have a tailor made exercise programme specific to you and one that is designed by a specialist physiotherapist to get your knee moving again and to strengthen those pesky muscles that have probably become very lazy from the inactivity before your surgery.

Get this right and your movement, strength, balance and ultimately your lifestyle and mobility will be excellent. And even more importantly you will be pain free. The exercises prescribed to you by your physio will change and progress as you move through your recovery as will the focus on the goals that you set yourself. As the weeks pass everything become less painful, easier to do and will become more fun.

If you think you won’t be able to do the gardening, play golf or kneel after your joint replacement, think again. I have seen many clients of mine do all these things and a lot more.

Are you worried that you will always walk with a stiff knee after joint replacement surgery? Please believe me when I say all it takes is a pair of crutches and some gentle guidance from a specialist physio and you can get back to walking perfectly in weeks.

What Will Happen Once I Go Home?

Hospitals both NHS and private will generally provide in-house physiotherapy post operatively but this will often only extend to once or twice a day max whilst you are on the ward and then the norm is only a couple of group sessions as an out-patient after you have been discharged home.

From what I have seen for all the years I’ve worked with clients is this kind of post-op care is never enough to cater for anyone’s needs and goals who has had a knee joint replacement as it really only gets your through the first few weeks of your recovery.

I’ve seen people then left on their own to get on with a sheet of generic exercises printed off the computer or stick men drawn out on the paper and then people are left wondering whether they should have had the surgery done at all as life was probably better before it.

I’ve seen people feel completely let down by the care they’ve had as they are left with a stiff, painful, swollen knee that doesn’t allow them to get back to gardening, walking, golf, bowls, exercise class that they had been promised would be the end result by the surgeon and the hospital physios.

This is where we often come in seeing unhappy, dejected clients who regret having their knee replaced as they didn’t get the outcome they were promised. Let me tell you this though there is hope even weeks/months down the line. We have successfully treated this exact group of clients and got them back playing golf, bowls and walking well so they can have a life enjoying spending time with their families and friends out and about.

"Teamwork Makes The Dream Work"

Does it take work from both us and our clients…Yes!

All your goals definitely can be achieved with a well-planned and thorough programme of post-operative care and not the standard budget option of a couple of sessions.

What you need to remember is that everyone is different.

Although you may have had the same surgery as someone you know you must remember we all heal at our own rate. Each human body is unique. You may have very different goals for your recovery to somebody else. For example, one person’s goal may be wanting to walk to the local shop, whilst another’s may be to return to playing tennis.

These two goals will have very different time frames to achieve them, as well as two very different exercise programmes. It is one thing walking in a straight line but if you want to do sports and exercise that requires adding twists and turns and high impact exercise these will all add extra load to your new knee so it will take longer to achieve that type of goal with comfort.

I love working with people who have had joint replacements, as with therapy done the right way the improvements over the weeks and months following the surgery can be astounding! And watching people regain their confidence and quality of life is why I became a Physiotherapist.

But just remember the moral of the story – no matter how good your Surgeon or Therapist is, it takes team work from them and you too to get the results you were hoping for! And trust me when I say it is so worth the effort when you get that smile back on your face as you will get back the life you once had being mobile, independent and active.

For more tips like this to help ease pain and stiffness in your knee visit here: www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/physiotherapy/knee-pain – to get your free copy of my knee pain report which reveals 7 simple ways to end it to help get you exercising again.

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– by lead Physiotherapist Wendy McCloud



Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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