Common Complications After Sports Knee Surgery and How to Avoid Them

Written by Mr Bilal Barkatali

In this article, we will discuss the most commonly reported problems after knee surgery, the activities to avoid and tips to facilitate faster healing

Complications After Sports Knee Surgery

Introduction: Sports knee surgery is a common procedure performed to address various knee injuries and conditions. While the surgery aims to improve function and alleviate pain, there are potential complications that can arise during the recovery process. Understanding these complications and taking preventive measures can help ensure a smoother and more successful rehabilitation. In this article, we will discuss the most commonly reported problems after knee surgery, the activities to avoid during recovery, sports that may pose risks after knee replacement, and tips to facilitate faster healing after surgery.

What Are the Most Commonly Reported Problems After Knee Surgery? 

While knee surgery is generally safe and effective, some complications may arise. The most commonly reported problems after knee surgery include:

  1. Infection: Surgical site infections can occur after knee surgery and may require additional treatment, like a course of anti-biotics.
  2. Blood Clots: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the legs are a potential risk following knee surgery. These clots can be dangerous if they travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. These are avoided by adequate hydration, early mobilisation and depending on the type of surgery a short period of anti-coagulation medication to thin the blood for 2-6 weeks.
  3. Stiffness and Reduced Range of Motion: Some patients may experience stiffness and a limited range of motion after knee surgery. Physical therapy and regular exercise can help address this issue.
  4. Implant Failure: Although rare, implant failure or complications related to the artificial joint may occur, necessitating revision surgery.

Taking precautions such as maintaining proper hygiene, following post-operative instructions, and attending follow-up appointments can significantly reduce the risk of these complications.

What to Avoid After Knee Surgery? 

To ensure a smooth recovery, it is important to avoid certain activities after knee surgery:

  1. High-Impact Sports: Activities that involve running, jumping, or abrupt movements should be avoided during the initial stages of recovery.
  2. Excessive Weight-Bearing: Putting excessive weight on the surgical knee can impede healing. Using crutches or a walker as advised by your surgeon or physical therapist can help distribute weight and protect the knee.
  3. Twisting or Rotational Movements: Avoid activities that involve sudden twisting or rotational movements, as they can strain the healing tissues and increase the risk of re-injury.
  4. Overexertion: Pushing yourself too hard during rehabilitation can lead to complications. Follow your rehabilitation plan and progress at a pace recommended by your healthcare team.

What Sports Can You Not Do After Knee Replacement? 

After knee replacement surgery, certain high-impact and contact sports should generally be avoided due to the potential risks they pose to the artificial joint. These sports include:

  1. Running: High-impact running can place excessive stress on the knee joint and increase the wear on the implant. A recent study however has shown that there does not appear to be increased wear of the prosthesis in runners after Total knee Replacement and that it may be safe to run after surgery.
  2. Contact Sports: Sports such as football, rugby, and martial arts involve significant contact and may increase the likelihood of injury or implant dislocation.
  3. High-Impact Aerobics: Activities that involve repetitive jumping or high-impact movements can strain the knee joint and compromise the longevity of the implant.

What Helps Knees Heal Faster After Surgery? 

To facilitate faster healing after knee surgery, consider the following tips:

  1. Follow Rehabilitation Guidelines: Adhere to your rehabilitation program, including exercises prescribed by your physical therapist, to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  2. Manage Pain and Swelling: Use prescribed pain medication and follow the guidelines provided by your surgeon. Apply ice packs and elevate your leg to reduce swelling.
  3. Maintain a Healthy Diet: A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals supports healing and provides essential nutrients for tissue repair.
  4. Quit Smoking: Smoking can impede the healing process. If you smoke, consider quitting or reducing smoking to promote better recovery.


While sports knee surgery can effectively address knee injuries, it is essential to be aware of potential complications and take appropriate precautions. By avoiding high-impact activities, following post-operative instructions, and working closely with your healthcare team, you can minimize the risk of complications and ensure a smoother recovery. Always consult with your knee surgeon or orthopedic specialist for personalized advice based on your specific condition and surgery.

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