Why do people fear knee replacements more than hip replacements?

Written by: Mr Manoj Sood
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

It’s true that people who are in need of a knee replacement due to knee arthritis are often more concerned about the operation than those who need their hip replaced. While it is perfectly normal to have concerns before any operation, knee replacements, when performed by an experienced knee surgeon, will have reliable results.

We asked Mr Manoj Sood about the different concerns that people have before knee replacement surgery and how patients can feel reassured about the process.

When do I need my knee replaced?

While hip replacements work well in most people and require little rehabilitation, knee replacements can be trickier. However, if the knee replacement is done at theright time, by the right specialist and the patient has the right rehabilitation after the operation, the outcome is generally very good.

It’s important to get the timing right when performing a knee replacement. There is a danger that performing a knee replacement too soon, when the degree of pain present can be managed by other methods, may not relieve the pain as expected or, worse still, the patient may suffer an unnecessary complication and regret having the operation. If pain is not severe or limiting day-to-day activities, the operation should be postponed and other effective treatments offered to help any pain that exists until the replacement becomes necessary.

When surgery is needed, choosing the right surgeon who is skilled in knee replacement surgery is important. Knee replacements are more difficult to get right than hip replacements. This is why so many patients worry about having their knee replaced. Choosing a surgeon who has performed many successful knee replacements will be more likely to lead to better results. You should try to understand how many replacements your surgeon has done, which is easy to find out, and how successful these have been, which is much more difficult to find out. Your surgeon should be a specialist knee replacement surgeon who has undergone advanced training in replacement surgery.

Proper assessment , including obtaining the correct X-rays prior to surgery, planning surgery,skilful surgery and supervised rehabilitation are very important for the surgical result to be successful.


l am worried about pain after the replacement

Patients generally experience more pain after a knee replacement than after a hip replacement because the knee can swell and become tight and stiff. This can make everyday activities like bending more difficult. The arthritic pain will disappear straight after surgery, however, the tightness and swelling can take some time to resolve.

To control the pain after a knee replacement,pain relieving medication and regular icing helps enormously. In addition, the way in which the surgery is performed, how the wound is closed and the surgical techniques used will have a large impact on recovery and the pain felt by patients after the procedure. Although there will always be some pain, patients can walk on the day of the surgery, or the day after. Mr Sood’s patients go home the day following the surgery or the day after this, with good pain management and a mobile knee joint.


Will I need a lot of physiotherapy after surgery?

Usually, 6-8 sessions of physiotherapy will be required after surgery. A well-performed surgery will make physiotherapy much easier, as the knee will be able to move more easily and the muscles will strengthen much faster. For a speedy recovery, it’s vital for your surgeon to keep track of your physiotherapy progress. This allows them to identify any reasons for a slower recovery and take appropriate action.

Sometimes it is necessary to manipulate the knee under anaesthetic if the knee is taking longer than expected to regain movement. As a guide, Mr Sood only manipulates on average one knee replacement per year (less than 1% of all replacements that he performs). Some less experienced surgeons have higher rates of manipulation and sometimes this signifies a problem with the surgery.


I am worried about not being able to bend my knee properly

If a knee replacement is performed well, the knee should bend just as well as it did before the operation and sometimes even better than before. Where patients have limited bending of the knee prior to surgery, surgical techniques can be used to improve the bend after the surgery.


Will kneeling will be a problem after surgery?

Most people are able to kneel after a knee replacement, but many don’t. It’s estimated that 60-80% of people can kneel after total knee replacement when encouraged to do so.

Many patients don’t kneel due to a fear of damaging the replacement or because kneeling doesn’t feel right. For some, the knee may not bend enough to allow proper kneeling. This is another reason to have a specialist surgeon perform the procedure, to ensure that lack of bend doesn’t compromise activities.


In summary , ensure that other methods of treating the arthritic knee are explored before considering surgery. When a replacement becomes necessary, do your homework and choose a skilled specialist surgeon, and you will have an excellent chance of having a good result. Good luck!


If you’d like to discuss knee replacement surgery withMr Manoj Sood, please visit his profile here for a consultation.

By Mr Manoj Sood
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Manoj Sood is one of London's leading specialist hip & knee surgeons. He treats all hip and knee conditions as well as sports injuries. He has been in specialist consultant practice for over 15 years and has trained internationally including in Centres of Excellence in North America.

He has a passion for excellence in diagnosis and treatment and is a known expert in hip and knee joint replacement including complex and revision cases. He provides clear treatment advice to his patients and is recognised as a clear communicator, Mr Sood believes in offering patients jargon-free explanations about their conditions and about all possible treatment options, including those not involving surgery. Whilst he believes passionately in reconstructing and preserving joints and in biological treatments, he is also an expert hip and knee replacement surgeon. His referral practice deals with the most complex and challenging of cases including replacements that have failed and need to be re-done.

Mr Sood has performed over 1800 knee arthroscopies, approximately 2000 hip and knee replacements and over 250 revision (re-do) hip and knee replacements. He has excellent outcomes, as shown in The National Joint Registry, and a very low rate of complications. He has a keen interest in the treatment of Sports injuries and tendinopathies and is part of The Tendon Pain Clinic in Harley Street, a specialist clinic dealing with difficult tendon pain problems. His is also dedicated to education and training serving as Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and is particularly focused on teaching surgical decision-making and the complex technical aspects of surgery. He is a subeditor for the Journal of Arthroscopy and Joint Surgery and a reviewer for Hip International. .

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. Click ‘Enter’ to continue browsing. Enter Cookies policy