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Whitfield Clinic, Cork Road, Waterford


Knee Surgery - What to Expect?

Before Knee Replacement Surgery

Pre-Assessment Unit

All patients need to attend the pre-assessment unit prior to surgery, for blood tests and risk assessment.


I recommend that all patients should have “prehabilitation” prior to their knee replacement. This involves attending a chartered physiotherapist to start a quadriceps strengthening programme. We will ask you to re-attend this same physiotherapist after discharge to continue your rehab programme. Patients tend to have a better outcome when they attend a physiotherapist and follow a customised exercise plan.

Joint School

This is a free educational programme run by Whitfield Clinic, aimed at pre-operative education and answering any questions you may wish to ask. To book your place, call Jo Breheny on 051 319 845. Patient satisfaction rates improve the more they understand about their surgery and when they have realistic expectations. I also recommend you explore educational websites. We also “score” the severity of your knee arthritis pre-operatively and again 3 months and 1 year after your surgery to document your outcome scientifically.


Prior to admission, I recommend you shower twice a day for three days, cleaning the skin about your knee gently with normal soap. We also advise that you take a shower when admitted to Whitfield Clinic.

Hospital Stay

Patients are generally admitted on the morning of their surgery and typically need 3 to 4 days in hospital, where any pain will be controlled, while working with physiotherapy. Before theatre, you will be fasting, so we may give you a sugar drink. You will also receive some painkillers (pre-emptive analgesia) before coming to theatre.

You will start walking the next day, using 2 crutches, with the assistance of our physiotherapist and nurses. Please bring loose comfortable clothes that you can wear about the ward, with appropriate safe footwear (no loose slippers).



Upon Discharge

You can be discharged once your pain is controlled and you have reached our physiotherapy targets… including good knee motion, safety and confidence on crutches and ability to negotiate stairs. You will be given a prescription for pain relief and Aspirin and advised to attend your local physiotherapist for further rehab and your local GP for clip removal around 12 days after the surgery. Once your wound is healed, you can exercise in a pool or on a stationary bicycle.

Everyone is sore initially after a knee replacement, but in general the pain is very manageable with routine painkillers and regular icing. You will have two crutches initially, but you can gradually dispense with these as you feel comfortable and safe. It is okay to put full weight on your knee once you feel able.

I see you again at 6 weeks with new x-rays. I suggest it is best to have someone at home with you for the first two weeks and I do not recommend driving until you are off both crutches.

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