Skip to main content

Knee replacement surgery

Tired of battling knee pain? We're here to help.

Doctor examining patients knee joint weeks following surgery
More than 10 million people suffer from joint pain in the UK. While joint pain can be widespread (affecting your entire body) it is often localised, causing pain in one or more joints. 

Knee pain is a common form of joint pain. It can affect your ability to walk, sleep and perform everyday activities that help you lead a happy and fulfilled life. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help you manage knee pain and live a happy, healthy life. One of these is knee replacement surgery. 

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure that involves removing your damaged and painful knee joint and replacing with an artificial joint (also known as a prosthesis). Usually, a prosthesis is made of a metallic alloy with a plastic insert. In some cases, it is made of other materials, such as oxidized ceramic and titanium alloys. 

There are two main forms of knee replacement surgery: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement surgery. 

If you suffer from debilitating knee pain and are struggling to find a treatment option that works for you, you’re in the right place. We have a network of dedicated Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons available to help you manage and resolve your knee pain, through surgery or other forms of specialist treatment tailored to your needs. If you’re interested in knowing more about knee replacement surgery, we are here to help.  

We share more information about knee replacement surgery below, including knee replacement recovery tips and more in-depth information on total knee replacement surgery, as well as partial knee replacement surgery. 

Your knee replacement cost in the UK will differ depending on where you receive treatment and the type of knee replacement surgery you have. The typical cost of knee replacement surgery in the UK is from £12,000 (for private knee replacement surgery). 

The final price of your knee replacement will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.  

Fortunately, paying for surgery with us is an accessible process that allows you to spread the cost of your surgery over a period of time that suits you. Our easy payment options include: 

The BMI card: The BMI Card allows you to borrow a fixed sum that is paid to us directly. The card can be used at different stages throughout your treatment journey. 

Monthly installments: Our flexible payments option from Chrysalis Finance allows you to make repayments through a series of installments across a time that fits your needs. 

Private medical insurance: If you are using private medical insurance for treatment, you need to speak to your insurance provider about any excess on your claim.   

If you’re not sure which payment option would work for you, our team of advisors can offer more information about each. You can call a member of the team on 0141 300 5009.

You don’t have to live in pain.  

Booking your first consultation to discuss knee replacement surgery with us is a simple process. 

You can begin your journey to better mobility and reduced knee pain by calling us directly on 0141 300 5009 or by booking a consultation with an Orthopaedic Surgeon online. 

Knee replacements have been performed since the 1970s. The implants and surgical techniques have developed significantly since then, but the general objective behind the procedure remain the same – to remove your damaged knee joint and replace it with a prosthesis, helping you live a more active and fulfilled life as a result.  

In England and Wales there are approximately 160,000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed each year. This large volume reflects positive surgery outcomes, which can last for over 10 years. 

You might be wondering: “how long does a knee replacement last?” According to The National Institute for Health Research, more than 80% of total knee replacements can last for 25 year s, showing just how long people can benefit from the many benefits of knee replacement surgery.  

Orthopaedic surgery: what is it?

Orthopaedic surgery is focused on the treatment of injuries and disorders of your joints and their associated soft tissues (which includes your ligaments, nerves and muscles). These components make up your musculoskeletal system. Your musculoskeletal system is vital in its support and protection of your movement and muscular health. It helps support your weight and a range of bodily functions.

There are many factors that can cause damage to your musculoskeletal system, causing pain and swelling in turn. These include traumatic injuries often induced by contact sport, or joint conditions such as arthritis, which can cause your joint to deteriorate over time. Joint pain can occur as widespread pain, but it is more often localised (located within one or more joints).  

Knee pain can prevent you from doing the exercise you love, or even from bending down or walking properly. It can make everyday tasks feel like a struggle. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available. 

Why might you need knee replacement surgery?

You might be wondering whether you’re eligible for knee replacement surgery. There are several reasons why you might require knee replacement surgery.

If you have tried knee replacement alternatives (other forms of treatment available to treat knee pain) and have found these unsuccessful, knee replacement surgery could be the best option for you. Knee replacement alternatives include: 

Knee injection therapy: This form of pain relief, also known as steroid injection therapy, involves injection steroid medication into your painful knee joint. It can effectively reduce swelling and inflammation and lower your pain levels. However steroid injection need to be avoided directly prior to knee replacement surgery to reduce infection risk.

Oral anti-inflammatories: These will be prescribed by your GP or Consultant and can be available on repeat prescription, if needed. According to our Joint Pain Matters 2020 report, medication is the most common treatment option used by survey respondents. 69.76% of respondents used it to manage their pain effectively. 

Heat therapy: Your doctor might recommend using heat therapy (in the form of icepacks or heat pads) to manage your pain. This can be an effective way of reducing swelling or numbing pain, if needed. 

Physiotherapy for joint pain: Your Physiotherapist will work with you to build a tailored exercise plan built around your needs. This will help strengthen your knee muscles and relieve any tension or pain. You can perform your knee replacement exercises at home with guidance from your Physiotherapist. 61.41% of respondents have tried physiotherapy to treat joint pain.  

If the above treatment options have not helped alleviate your symptoms, then you could benefit from knee replacement surgery. Your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon will be able to determine whether this is the best treatment option for you.

There are many reasons why you might suffer from knee pain and require knee replacement surgery. These include: 

Osteoarthritis: According to The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, approximately 8.5 million people have joint pain attributed to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when the smooth cartilage that protects your joint surface deteriorates over time. It can also cause swelling and tenderness.  

It is important to remember that arthritis symptoms affect everyone differently.  

Some people suffer severe pain as a result of osteoarthritis and struggle to perform everyday activities, making life challenging. Other people find that their symptoms are less severe and do not occur as regularly. 

Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 400,000 people in the UK. It is an inflammatory joint condition caused by an autoimmune process, which occurs when your body mistakenly attacks its healthy cells. This often causes chronic joint pain and deterioration. Joints affected by RA are usually surrounded by inflamed tissue. 

Knee cap traumatic arthritis : A broken kneecap (which is also known as a patellar fracture) happens when the small bone at the front of your knee breaks. It is usually caused by a traumatic knee injury during sport and can lead to knee cap arthritis.

Septic arthritis: This is a severe joint infection that can be caused by a traumatic injury to your joint, including a bite from a dog or an open wound. Most cases are caused by blood spread of infection from elsewhere in the body. This form of arthritis requires immediate medical attention.  

Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure to treat knee pain. It is often performed by multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals, including a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Anaesthetist, Theatre Nurses and more. 

Knee replacement surgery also requires the skills and expertise of a Physiotherapist, who can help you recover from surgery faster and strengthen your knee joint following surgery through specialist exercises. 

Knee replacement surgery involves removing your damaged and painful knee joint and replacing with a prosthesis (this can be made of a metal and has a plastic insert). During the procedure, your Consultant will remove damaged, deteriorated cartilage and bone from your knee joint, which helps significantly reduce your pain and improve your mobility levels.  

If you have debilitating knee pain, you might struggle to sleep, socialise or perform effectively at work. According to our Joint Pain Matters 2020 report, which examines the impact of joint pain on the lives of more than 8000 people, 66% of people with joint pain said they struggle to sleep, more than two-thirds of respondents (68.9%) said joint pain has affected their mental health and 94.97% of survey respondents said joint pain has affected their ability to do everyday tasks. 

These statistics reflect the often-devastating effects of joint pain, which can interfere with many aspects of your everyday life. One respondent to our survey commented: 

“I can’t sleep because of the pain. I wake up throughout the night in pain, which makes  me unproductive during the day”. 

If your everyday life and mental health has suffered as a result of knee pain and you need help quickly, you could benefit from private knee replacement surgery, which provides a fast and trusted solution to knee pain.

Our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons are here to help eliminate your pain and get you back feeling like you again.  

Not everyone with knee pain needs a knee replacement operation, making it sometimes challenging to decide whether knee replacement surgery is the right option for you.  

There are some common symptoms that indicate you might need a knee joint replacement, including:  

Persistent knee pain that limits your movement; 
A change in the appearance of your knee; 
Knee pain when bending down; 
Knee pain when exercising;  
Knee pain during sex;  
Severe knee stiffness; 
Knee pain when walking and night pain; 
An inability to support your body weight on one leg, and  
Limited relief from other forms of treatment you’ve tried. 

Living with persistent knee pain can dramatically impact your quality of life, so it’s important to recognise the symptoms that make you eligible for knee replacement surgery. 

There are several types of knee replacement surgery. Your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon will be able to determine which type of knee replacement surgery you might need. There are two main types of knee replacement surgery. 

Total knee replacement (also known as full knee replacement): also known as knee arthroplasty, involves removing all three separate knee cartilage interfaces. Your knee joint consists of three equally important bones – your femur (upper leg bone) tibia (thigh bone) and patella (kneecap). These form the inner, outer and knee cap compartments (three in total).

In a healthy knee, these bones are covered with smooth and healthy cartilage. In a painful knee, these components are often covered by deteriorated and damaged cartilage. During a total knee replacement surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon will remove and replace both sides of your knee joint and replace each with a prosthesis. The back of your kneecap might also be replaced, depending on your reason for having surgery. 

Patrial knee replacement (also known as half knee replacement): During partial knee replacement surgery, your Orthopaedic Surgeon will only remove and replace the damaged compartment of your knee with a prosthesis., for example: if you have arthritis in a specific area of your knee , the inner, outer or knee cap compartment can be replaced. This procedure is generally performed with smaller incisions , is bone conserving and  has a more minimally invasive approach. 

We offer robotic knee replacement surgery in the form of Mako® robotic-arm assisted knee surgery. The Mako® robotic-arm can be used in both total and partial knee replacement surgical procedures. While our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons don’t need robotics to perform successful, quality surgical procedures, the robotic arm can help with precision and reduces the risk of complication during surgery.

Speak with your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon about robotic-arm assisted surgery in more detail. They will be able to let you know whether it is the right treatment option for you. 

You can usually see a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon for your first consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us.   

It’s natural to not know what to expect during your first consultation and to feel apprehensive about it as a result. But don’t worry, we are here to answer any questions you might have and ensure you understand the process of your healthcare journey with us from start to finish. 

At your initial consultation, your Consultant will ask about your health and examine your medical history in detail to determine whether you have any existing medical conditions, as well as if you take any treatment for your knee pain (and whether this has been effective). They will want to know more about the nature of your knee pain, including when it began and how it impacts your daily life.

For example: does it impact your sleep? Your social life? Or, your relationships? These are all important ways for us to understand the severity of your knee pain and how we can approach treatment. 

In order to assess your symptoms properly and make an accurate diagnosis of your knee pain, your Consultant will gently carry out a physical examination of your joint(s), and request an X-ray, if needed. Your Consultant will want to evaluate how you move your knee joint and in which positions it causes you the most pain. Your X-ray will be performed by one of our Radiographers. 

After your Consultant has confirmed the cause of your knee pain through diagnostic testing, they will share more information about knee replacement surgery and whether it might be the right treatment option for you. They will also discuss other potential treatment options for your knee pain to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of your options. 

Your Consultant is there to answer any questions you might have about knee replacement surgery and any concerns you might experience about undergoing surgery (if applicable).  

The timeframe between your initial consultation and undergoing treatment will depend on whether you have been diagnosed with a knee pain condition prior to your consultation. After your consultation, your Consultant will ensure you know how to prepare for surgery or your recommended treatment option.  

You might be wondering: “what happens during a knee replacement operation?” The process of a knee replacement surgery depends on which type of surgery you undergo.

All knee replacement surgeries are typically performed either under general anaesthetic or under spinal anaesthetic or epidural. Under general anesthetic, you will not be awake. When under spinal anaesthetic or epidural, you will be awake but will not feel anything from the waist down. 

Total knee replacement surgery: During total knee replacement surgery, your Consultant will begin the surgery by making an incision down the front of your knee to expose your knee. Your kneecap is then moved and held by a retractor while your surgeon accesses your knee joint, located behind your knee cap. 

Your surgeon will then remove the damaged and painful ends of your thigh and shin bone and measure these ends precisely to fit your prosthetic replacement. A trial joint will be placed inside your knee to test that the joint is functioning properly beforehand.  

After these adjustments are finalised, the ends of your bone are cleaned, and your new prosthesis is fitted which can be uncemented or cemented. 

Your thigh bone and shin bone are typically replaced with a metal prosthesis, but this material can vary depending on which your Consultant thinks is best. Please speak with them in more detail about this. They will be able to answer any questions you might have.

The back of your kneecap may also be replaced (known as kneecap replacement), depending on the reasons why you are having surgery. Your wound is then closed with either stitches or clips and a dressing is applied. You will normally be encouraged to move your leg as soon as you can. 

In the case of a partial knee replacement surgery, your Consultant will make a smaller incision to your knee and only remove one part of it.

According to the NHS, partial knee replacement surgery is suitable for around 1 in 4 people with osteoarthritis. One of the advantages of having a partial knee replacement is the shorter hospital stay. Speak with your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon about which option they think is the right one for you.

The process of your knee replacement surgery might also change if your Consultant uses a robotic-arm assisted surgical technique. You will know whether this is the case before you go into surgery.

Knee replacement surgery time

Many people ask: "how long does knee replacement surgery take?" The surgery usually lasts for one to two hours. 

Can you damage a knee replacement?

A traumatic fall or injury can damage your knee replacement, just as it would damage your real knee. A loss of strength in your knee joint can lead to a loss of balance after your knee replacement, which is why it is important to follow specialist knee replacement exercises set by your Physiotherapist. We talk about these in more detail below.

You might be wondering: “how long is recovery after knee replacement?” Every individual’s knee replacement recovery time looks slightly different. This depends on factors, such as: 

How active you were before having knee replacement surgery;  
Your usual everyday activities;  
The nature of your job (if you have an active job or a desk job), and  
Your age.  

A total knee replacement recovery timeline will look slightly different to a partial knee replacement recovery timeline. You can discuss this with your Consultant to ensure you understand what to expect.  

Your Orthopaedic Surgeon will understand your personal circumstances and health better and be able to advise what your knee surgery recovery timeline looks like.  

How much walking after knee replacement surgery is advised?

You will likely be advised to begin walking on your knee quickly. Your Physiotherapist will help you take your first steps to ensure you do not put too much strain on your new knee. Usually, you are helped to stand within 12 to 24 hours of your operation. Your Consultant will encourage you to walk with a frame or crutches to initially not put too much pressure on your knee. Your Physiotherapist can show you how best to use these walking aids. They will also inform you when you can stop using them. 

Walking after knee replacement surgery is recommended, but please be gentle with yourself as you recover. You don’t need to walk extreme distances to reap the benefits of walking. 

Most people can resume their normal life activities within six weeks of having surgery. You should refrain from exercises that are too strenuous as you heal and avoid activities with an elevated risk of losing your balance and falling. Most people can leave hospital after around two days. You will need to arrange for a friend or family member to collect you, as you won’t be able to drive back on your own.  

Making the most of your recovery

You can make the most of your recovery by preparing for surgery beforehand.  
Lose excess weight: Your Consultant might ask that you lose any excess weight before surgery. Losing weight can reduce the risk of complications happening during surgery and to speed up your recovery process.  

Stay active: Many people question how far to walk after knee replacement surgery. Your activity levels should be relatively high before and after surgery (low-impact, gentle walking). You should not perform high-impact exercise after surgery to prevent straining your muscle. 

Avoid drinking alcohol before surgery: You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before having knee replacement surgery. Please speak with your Consultant about this. 
Discuss food requirements with your Consultant: Your Consultant will discuss the sort of food you should eat before surgery, as well as whether there are any you should avoid consuming beforehand. Please discuss this with your Consultant in more detail. 

Discuss medication requirements with your Consultant: Your Consultant will also share detailed information about whether you should avoid taking your usual medication before hospital, or the kind of medication you might need to take after.  

Eliminate tripping hazards at home: Remember to eliminate any tripping hazards before your surgery, so that you do not trip and fall when you return home from surgery with initially limited mobility. 

Ensure you have enough food and resources at home: In the weeks after your surgery, your mobility might be limited as you regain mobility and strength. Please ensure you or a member of your support network stocks your house with food and resources. Alternatively, arrange for a friend or family member to shop for you in the initial weeks after your surgery. 

Fortunately, your Orthopaedic Surgeon and healthcare team will keep you informed on all information, including travel arrangements, what to bring to the hospital, any pre-operative testing required, as well as how best to manage any lifestyle changes recommended in preparation for surgery. 

How long does pain last after knee replacement?

It is usual to have initial discomfort after knee replacement surgery, especially when walking or exercising. This should decrease over time and be eased through specialist knee replacement exercises. If you continue to have pain in your knee, you should speak with your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon about why this might be. They will be able to investigate this further and provide a solution. 

A partial knee replacement scar, or full replacement scar, is normal. Either will be situated in the region of your knee where your Consultant has made an incision.

Its size depends on the size of your knee. This scar tissue will heal and your scar will fade naturally over time, but you can ask your Consultant how to speed up this process through the use of certain ointments, if needed. Remember, our team are here to support you after your surgery. You can call them directly for knee replacement aftercare advice and guidance. 

Your healthcare team are here to answer any questions you have about your recovery process, including information on driving after knee replacement surgery, the best position to sleep after knee replacement surgery, how to get down on the floor after knee replacement surgery if you sleep in a high positioned bed, and any other concerns or queries you might have. 

As mentioned previously, total knee replacement surgery might take longer than partial knee replacement recovery, so it’s important to speak with your Consultant about what your recovery timeline will look like in more detail.  

Specialist exercises after knee replacement

Your dedicated Physiotherapist will build a tailored specialist exercise plan built around your needs. These exercises will help strengthen your knee muscles and improve your mobility. 

In turn, this helps accelerate your recovery and get you back to doing the things you love faster. You will work with your Physiotherapist to learn these exercises, which you can continue at home using specialist equipment, if required. 

Complications can occur during any surgery.  

Potential complication during any surgical procedure include:  

Pain;  
Infection in the surgical wound;  
Excessive bleeding;   
Scarring;  
Blood clotting;  
Chest infection;  
Heart attack, and  
Stroke.  

Specific complications that can occur during kneea hip replacement surgery include:  

Pain; 
Swelling; 
Stiffness;
Fracture;
Damage to your nerves;  
Damage to blood vessels, and 
Infection in your knee. 

Specialists offering Knee replacement surgery

Mr Bernard McElroy

Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon

MB.Ch.B., FRCS, FRCS(Orth)

BMI The Chiltern Hospital 1 more BMI The Shelburne Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr John McAllister

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

FRCS(Orth) FRCS (Ed)

BMI The Blackheath Hospital 2 more BMI Chelsfield Park Hospital BMI The Sloane Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Paul Porter

Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon

BM FRCS FRCS

BMI The Winterbourne Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Matthew Hall

Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon

BSc(Hons), MBChB, MRCS, FRCS(Tr&Orth)

BMI The Winterbourne Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Richard (Adam) Brooks

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MA, FRCS(Tr & Orth), BM BCh

BMI The Ridgeway Hospital

View profile Book online

Find a specialist

General Enquiries