Knee replacement surgery/pain at night


Hi, I had a total knee replacement 8 days ago and I’m finding it really difficult to sleep for more than a couple of hours because of the pain. I’ve been prescribed paracetamol and gabapentin. I was also given tramadol which I’m reluctant to take as I’m allergic to opioids. I’m finding I can’t get comfortable and although I’m dropping off to sleep, it’s broken sleep, and I’m checking the time to see when I can take the next dose of painkillers. Can anyone offer any advice please, is this normal and will it improve as time goes on? Thank you.


  • PeterJ
    PeterJ Administrator Posts: 906

    Hello @Millie1967 sorry to hear about your pain from your operation but hopefully it will be better for you once the pain goes and your knee replacement helps your mobility.

    Have a look at our website and also one called escape pain, I've added a couple of links below that hopefully might help

    I hope your pain gets better soon

    Best wishes


    Need more help? - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • Millie1967
    Millie1967 Member Posts: 5

    Thanks Peter. I’ve looked at some of the links you’ve included and it’s reassured me.

  • sunnyside2
    sunnyside2 Member Posts: 131

    Please call your doctor and ask about pain relief- you do not need to suffer. There may well be other options that could be added into the plan which would make the difference

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,565

    Hi @Millie1967

    I always have a lot of trouble sleeping post op I think most people do.

    It will improve it really will day by day then week by week you will get back to some sort of normal.

    8 days is nothing you have done very very well and should be proud of yourself.


    take care

  • Northernhippy

    Hi Millie, I had a knee replacement a couple of years ago, the first few weeks were really difficult & I got through them by sleeping whenever I could & not putting myself under any pressure to do anything other than focus on getting the knee moving. I found ice packs & meditation to be the most helpful thing for is a massive operation & takes some time to recover from, give yourself a break, be very nice to yourself & take it easy. Good the exercises!

  • Chris
    Chris Member Posts: 37
    edited 25. Apr 2021, 19:12

    Hi Millie i had a partial knee replacement on Monday 19/04/2021. I was ok on the Tuesday morning but once the anaesthetic wore out in my knee the pain was crazy high. It still bad but just take your pain medications to help you do your physio and ice helps me a lot. What i find is weird, my knee now feels really clunky but i guess that's to do with it being twice the size as normal and full of fluid. I hope this helps. All the best in your recovery.

  • VLDK
    VLDK Member Posts: 2

    Hi I’m new here .

    I gad partial knee end of jan 2021. I found the pain very bad at first and sleeping was difficult as I’m a side sleeper. So I was relying on pain killers which I had to ask my GP for after leaving the hospital. They sent me home with Pregabalin(similar to Gabapentin) and morphine! I was already taking Remedine (paracetamol +dihydrocodeine) as I have a trapped nerve in my back. This wasn’t good for my recovery physio as it affected my ability to move my leg. I’ve since had a steroid injection in my back which had proved to be a bad move as it was excruciatingly painful and has done nothing to improve things .. I am due to be signed off on Friday but my knee is downright refusing to straighten out properly and I am beginning to think that I’ll have to accept how it is . I struggle first thing in the morning to get moving properly. So it’s a rush to get to the loo before I have an accident ! On the subject of this has anyone been told by their GP that taking gabapentin or pregabalin a bit dodgy regarding urinary continence etc ?? I find this a bit worrying. If anyone has had any experience te this please reply . But regarding lack of sleep .. it gets better just ice and rest and try and do the exercises. I’ve read it can take over a year to get feeling right. Im hoping for that . I hope everyone out there gets better soon x

  • Shell_H
    Shell_H Member Posts: 548

    Hi @VLDK - Welcome to the online community!

    I see you had a partial knee replacement about 6 months ago, and had difficulty doing the physio exercises due to the effects of some of the painkillers you were given for both your knee and a trapped nerve in your back. Sadly the further steroid injection didn't help, and your knee isn't co-operating well despite the fact that you are due to be signed off soon.

    I've had a look at the medication you've talked about, and on the NHS site here (Pregabalin: medicine to treat epilepsy and anxiety - NHS ( it has "problems going to the toilet, including blood in your pee, needing to pee more often" as a serious side effect you should mention to your doctor strait away, so I'm heavily suggesting you talk to your GP about this. I'd also mention that your painkillers are making exercising your knee harder, as doing your post-op exercises is extremely important in being able to get your long-term mobility. Maybe asking for a referral to a personalised physio who can help with this aspect would be a good idea. These pain killers seem to be normally used for nerve damage, so maybe you've been given them mostly for your back? At any rate, you need to talk to your doctor ASAP as if you're unable to straighten your knee and struggling to go to the toilet in the morning this is quite serious.

    Have a look at the information in the link below - there is a whole section on recovery which may be helpful:

    Do have a look around the community. There's been quite a lot of talk about different surgeries, a lot of which may well overlap for your experience.

    Lovely to meet you!


  • suelema
    suelema Member Posts: 14

    I am due to have a knee replacement in the next couple of months and am shocked to hear other people say they are put on heavy opiods post operatively as opposed relax muscles which will interfere with the ability of leg muscles to support the recovering knee. I am wondering why they have not been given strong cocodamol? That med deals with extreme pain without affecting other things and unlike Gabapentin and similar it is not addictive. Luckily I was prescribed cocodamol for a torn meniscus and made sure I have a good supply as soon as I was put on the list for the knee operation. If I am prescribed opiods I will refuse them.

  • YvonneH
    YvonneH Member Posts: 1,076

    Hi @suelema

    Welcome to the Online Community it's great to meet you. I see you are due to have a knee replacement soon, I wish you all the best for that.

    I had a TKR in the last 4 or so years and it has worked very well for me. I was put on strong pain relief with the reason being that you needed to push past the pain to make you knee bend and to straighten it and if the pain is too much it's impossible to do this. I had the meds - no worries about addiction as you are taking them for way less than a week. Others did not and they were also doing well, the nurses and physio were great. We were in a ward on our own, we were told we weren't ill and we were encouraged all the way. This might be a tip, maybe it was just me?? My knee forgot to listen out for the messages from my brain to bend. Whatever I did the message wasn't getting through, then a lady in the bed opposite said do it with your good leg first and it worked! No idea what was going on there but I shall remember it for knee 2!

    Have a read of the link given above it is really helpful, as is doing all the exercises before you go into hospital to tone up your knee (as far as you can) and do them with both legs to help the other knee last a bit longer

    Take care

    Yvonne x

  • suelema
    suelema Member Posts: 14

    Hi Yvonne, thanks for your comment. I'm glad your op went well, and yes the exercises to bend the knee seem to be the most important thing for a good recovery and going through the pain will be worth it -I had to do that with the torn meniscus which is much better as a result. Only meds for a few days! My specialist said the first six weeks I may need heavy painkillers... no chance of my cocodamol running out then. It will be good to have support during those early weeks, just waiting now to hear, should be 3-4 months from mid-Jan.