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Total Knee Replacement Recovery & Risks

Total Knee Replacement


Total knee replacement is a safe and effective procedure to get you back on your feet.


You will be able to get up from Day 1 with the use of crutches for balance and start walking on your new knee with the guidance of our physiotherapy team.  Some discomfort is to be expected during the first week or two, and this will settle gradually over time..  We will review you at two weeks to check your wounds and monitor your rehabilitation. In most cases by week 4-6 patients are comfortable walking unassisted with the use of crutches.  Normally by 12 weeks patients are significantly improved and well on the way to full recovery.  An exercise bike is recommended from 2 weeks post operatively and hydrotherapy from 4 weeks post operatively.  Patients continue to improve with strength, walking and balance up to 1 year post surgery.

Total knee replacement in over 90% of cases gives a dramatic reduction in pain and significant improvement in the ability to perform tasks of daily life.  Realistic activities following total knee replacement include unlimited walking, swimming, golf, driving, light hiking, biking, ballroom dancing, and other low-impact sports.  With appropriate activity modification, knee replacements can last for many years.

Improvement of knee motion and pain relief is the goal of total knee replacement.  Most patients can expect to be able to almost fully straighten the replaced knee and to bend the knee sufficiently to climb stairs and get in and out of a car. Kneeling is sometimes uncomfortable, but it is not harmful.

Most people also feel or hear some clicking of the metal and plastic with knee bending or walking. This is a normal. These differences often diminish with time and most patients find them to be tolerable when compared with the pain and limited function they experienced prior to surgery.


Risks and Complications

Knee replacement surgery overall is highly effective and rarely has complications.  Dr Slattery takes extensive precautions to prevent complications at every step of your journey, however, complications can still occur with any surgery.  Dr Slattery will get you to see a specialist physician prior to your knee replacement to optimize your overall medical condition and prevent medical complications.

Risks related to knee replacement surgery include:

Wear of the Knee Replacement

Over time and with use the plastic part of the knee replacement can wear out, similarly to the tyres on a car and may need to be changed.  With modern plastics this is a rare occurrence.


Over time the knee replacement may come loose and need to be exchanged, the rate of this with modern prostheses is very low, and we would expect at least 15-20yrs before this occurs.


Infection may occur in the wound or deep around the prosthesis,  this even occur years later. Minor infections in the wound area are generally treated with antibiotics. Major or deep infections may require more surgery.  Any infection in your body can spread to your joint replacement.  Dr Slattery gives all patients antibiotics before and during the operation to prevent infections occurring.

Blood clots(DVT)

Blood clots in the leg veins can be life-threatening if they break free and travel to your lungs. Dr Slattery utilizes a range of preventative measures to stop these occurring which include: medications, compression stockings, pneumatic compression devices, and early mobilization.


Scarring occurs around any place that you undergo surgery, in the knee this scarring causes stiffness and prevents it bending properly. It is essential to move your knee early and take sufficient painkillers to allow you to perform your range of exercises daily.  If stiffness is an ongoing problem sometimes further surgery is required to remove the scar tissue.


Some patients can get recurrent swelling in the knee, this can be due to a variety of causes, but normally settles over time.

Continued Pain

A small number of patients continue to have pain after a knee replacement. This complication is rare, however, and the vast majority of patients experience excellent pain relief following knee replacement.

Nerve/Blood Vessel Damage

While extremely rare, injury to the nerves or blood vessels around the knee can occur during surgery.


Dr Slattery uses a lateral incision which aims to prevent numbness at the front of the knee, however a small group of patients still experience numbness at the side of the knee, this normally settles over 6-12months.


To book an appointment please contact Dr Slattery’s rooms on
03 5752 5020 mobile
We aim to see all fractures within 24hrs