Here you can find the answers to the most common questions patients ask about their surgery and rehabilitation.
Do I need a scan?
Many orthopedic conditions and sports injuries can be fully diagnosed with a detailed history, examination and plain xrays. If there is doubt regarding your diagnosis or if there is a specific need for pre operative planning an MRI scan may be requested.
How long will I be in hospital?
This depends on the surgery you are going to have and also on your home circumstances. In general arthroscopic surgery (key hole) is performed as a day case procedure so you will not stay in hospital overnight. Joint replacement and osteotomy procedures require a stay of between 1 and 5 days with most people going home on day 2 for partial knee replacements and osteotomy and day 3 for total knee replacement.
Do I have stitches or staples to come out?
Mr Gallacher does not use staples at all and uses an absorbable stitch that does not require removal. You will have replacement dressings to take home with you to use for the first 10 days after surgery. You will not normally need to attend your GP or practice nurse to have the wound redressed or anything removed.
When can I drive after surgery?
This depends on your confidence to control the vehicle safely and stop in an emergency. You have a responsibility to decide the right time yourself dependant on your recovery. In general driving is possible 7-10 days after arthroscopy and around 6 weeks after reconstructive or joint replacement surgery.
When can I return to work?
All knee operations will cause some pain and swelling afterwards and your mobility is often reduced initially. Most patients can return to office based work between 5 days and 2 weeks after knee arthroscopy. Heavy work will take longer, typically 4-6 weeks. On average it takes between 6 and 12 weeks to return to work after joint replacement or reconstruction.
Do I need physiotherapy after my operation.
Yes, physiotherapy and rehabilitation is very important following any knee operation. Specific details on rehabilitation protocols can be found here. In general the initial aim following surgery is to regain full range of movement and get back to walking without a limp. Depending on your surgery, occupation and expectations the rehabilitation will then progress to return you to a normal level of function for you. Failure to have or participate in rehabilitation can compromise the final result of your surgery.
Will I be able to return to sport?
The aim of most surgical procedures around the knee is to reduce pain and allow a return to a normal and active life. For reconstructive operations and arthroscopy the goal is to return to normal activities including sport. For arthroscopy this can take 4-6 weeks, for ligament reconstruction it takes 6-9 months to return to contact/pivoting sports. It is possible to resume sports after joint replacement surgery and many patients will ski, swim, golf and play racquet sports. It is unusual (but not impossible) to return to high impact or contact sports after joint replacement surgery.
Can I swim after a knee replacement?
Yes, once the wound has healed it is fine to get in a pool and swim which ever stroke you want to.
Can I kneel after my surgery?
It is very common for patients to find kneeling difficult at first after knee surgery. This is because the scars are often tender at the front of the knee and it is normal to have an area of numbness on the outside of scars following surgery to the knee. There is however no reason to avoid kneeling long term even after knee replacement and you will not damage your knee by kneeling on it. It is best to gradually ease yourself back into kneeling after surgery, initially on a soft surface such as a pillow or cushion.
Will I need a brace after my operation?
There are only a few operations that require a brace to protect the knee after surgery, PCL reconstruction, LCL reconstruction, MCL reconstruction, meniscal replacement and tibial tubercle osteotomy.
There is no need or evidence for the use of a brace for other operations (ACL, meniscal repair, tibial and femoral osteotomy) so you can have confidence in mobilising on your knee from day 1 post operatively.
I am in tremendous pain and cannot sleep following my surgery, is this normal?
It is very common for patients to struggle to sleep for the first 4-6 weeks after joint replacement or major knee surgery. The first two weeks are normally the worst and then things get easier but it can take 2-3 months to fully settle down. If you have pain that is getting worse and worse, swelling that is not improving after rest (most swelling is better in the morning and worst in the evening) or if you are unwell (temperature, fever) then you should contact Mr Gallacher's secretary and he will review you in the outpatients clinic.
My GP has told me I have an infection and I am worried about my operation.
There is always some swelling and redness around the knee after surgery. Some operations like knee replacement and tibial osteotomy cause a large amount of pain, swelling and redness which can take weeks or months to settle. Many non specialists mistake this normal post surgical situation for a superficial infection and start tablet antibiotics for this. In the early post operative period all of the usual blood tests GPs use for infection will be high from the operation and may be misleading. If you have redness that is spreading up the leg from the scar, swelling that is getting worse and worse or a high temperature of fever then you may well have an infection. If this is the case you should contact Mr Gallacher's secretary and he will review you in the outpatients clinic as soon as possible.
The answer to my question is not here or on this site, and I'm in trouble and need help.
If you cannot find the information you need on this page or on the website and you are struggling following surgery then please contact Mr Gallacher's secretary. Most queries can be quickly dealt with by phone or email and it is always better to ask and speak up rather than struggle on with a problem.