Lower Limb Joint Replacement Tips

Lower Limb Joint Replacement Tips

Wednesday 14th February 2024
Gemma B

Lower limb joint replacement tips

Why have a knee or hip replacement?

A joint replacement is typically performed with the aim to allow for smoother movement, this in turn can improve mobility and decrease pain. The goal is that this enables people to regain their ability to perform everyday tasks with greater ease. It is important to note that the decision to have a replacement is based on each individual, including the severity of symptoms, overall health and the impact on daily life. It is essential to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate course of action for your individual situation.

What alternatives to a knee or hip replacement are there?

Prior to a joint replacement, it is recommended that people try a wide range of conservative measures. Surgery should be a last solution after all other treatments have been trialled. This may include medications, Physiotherapy and lifestyle modifications. If you are struggling with knee or hip pain as a result of arthritis, ESCAPE-pain is a free, NHS approved application that is highly recommended.

How can I prepare for my operation?

It is important that you prepare for your operation to ensure your recovery is as smooth and successful as possible. Here are some general tips:

Consult with your surgeon. Prior to surgery, you will have an appointment which allows for the opportunity to speak with your surgeon. This is an opportunity to ask any questions and voice any concerns you may have.
Follow pre-operative advice. You will be given advice on fasting, medication adjustments and lifestyle modification prior to the surgery. It is essential to follow this advice to reduce risk and complications.
Arrange help. Recovery from a joint operation can be challenging. Coordinate with family, friends and carers to ensure you will have support with daily tasks, transport and overall well being.
Get your home ready. Remove trip hazards, it can be helpful to walk around the house with crutches or a frame before the operation to check that routes are easy to get through. Set your home up so that items are within reach, consider installing toilet raisers and grab rails.
Plan your rehabilitation post-operative: This may involve physiotherapy or hydrotherapy sessions. Ice can help with pain and swelling, consider getting two ice packs, with covers. Store these in the freezer ready for when you get home. You may be provided equipment in the hospitals in advance such as crutches or walkers. If you are told to, purchase these in advance. If you live in a house with stairs, consider that you might need two frames, one for upstairs and one for downstairs, if this is what you will need. Your Physiotherapist may also recommend rental of certain devices, such as neuromuscular electrical stimulation, to help stimulate the quadriceps after the operation.
Lifestyle modification. Prior to surgery, it may be beneficial to make modifications to optimise your health such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, weight modification, eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise.

These are generalised guidelines and it is important to speak with your healthcare team to get personalised advice and tailored instructions to ensure you get the best outcome possible.

Will R.I.C.E help?

Many people experience moderate to severe swelling in the first few days or weeks after surgery and mild to moderate swelling for three to six months after surgery. The trick to reducing this is following the R.I.C.E principles in the early phase.

Rest: It is important to complete exercises but it is just as important to rest your new joint sufficiently between sessions.

Ice: Ice can be applied for up to 20 minutes, with a break of 2 hours between each application.

Compress: Using compression stockings, if recommended, can help reduce swelling in the calf. There are now products on the market, such as the game ready, which cool and compresses the joint at the same time so is very effective at reducing the swelling.

Elevate: Elevating your leg will help the swelling around your leg drain towards the lymph nodes.

How long will I need pain relief?

Pain killers in the early phase of recovery are essential. Unless told otherwise by your healthcare team, coming off pain relief too soon can be counter-productive. If your pain is well controlled, you will feel better during your rehabilitation. This means taking painkillers regularly throughout the day, up to four times per day. It is recommended that you do not wait for the pain to kick in to take them. Keeping on top of the pain will also help aid sleep. Pain relief may make you constipated so try to prevent this through diet.

Any tips on sleeping?

It is common to experience difficulties sleeping initially. Timing your pain relief to take one dose 30 minutes before going to bed, then another dose in the early hours of the morning if you wake up, should improve your pain during the night.

If you sleep on your side, sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help aid alignment and help with pain.

A lightweight cover may be more comfortable over the joint, particularly if it is sensitive.

It is worth noting that if you have had a knee replacement, it is advised that you don't sleep with a pillow under your knee at night as this will prevent your knee fully straightening and in turn, may lead to losing range into extension.

Any tips on minimising scarring?

The scar from the incision site can be quite long. Once the stitches are out and the wound is fully healed, regular scar massage can reduce redness and breakdown lumps. A Physiotherapist can teach you the correct technique. It is recommended you do this daily.

How can I support a loved one?

Support from loved ones can help recovery and aid overall wellbeing. Here are some ways to help:

Help with tasks such as preparing healthy meals, doing chores, accompanying them to healthcare appointments and assisting with applying ice or heat as needed.
Keep the house clear and easily accessible. This might mean keeping pets in a different room during mobility, keeping trip hazards out of the way or removing rugs.
Engage in activities that promote a positive mindset and distract them from discomfort, this might include playing games or organising a movie night. It can also be helpful to schedule times throughout the day to workout together. It can help create a routine and encourage them to stay consistent.
Recovery can be challenging emotionally and physically. Be patient. Listen to their concerns and offer support. Offer words of encouragement and help them achieve their goals and celebrate success, no matter how small.
Be a role model for living a healthy life. This might involve quitting smoking together, keeping hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet.

Booking an appointment

If you would like to find out more about Estuary Physios Orthopaedic service, please get in touch with us today and speak with one of our clinicians.

Helpful Resources:

NHS - Knee Replacement

NHS - Hip Replacement


We understand that our clients often have a range of medical conditions. Our therapists have a broad range of backgrounds. For example, someone with joint replacement may also find they are having difficulty with shoulder pain. We have specialist musculoskeletal therapists who can work alongside an Orthopaedic Physiotherapist to get the best results. Here are some other conditions we treat here at Estuary Physio:

Parkinsons and Multiple Sclerosis

Back, Neck and Joint Pain


Medical Review

The information on this page has been reviewed for accuracy by Barry Ford BSc MCSP, Physiotherapist