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After Total Knee Replacement, 98 Percent Of Patients Return To Work and Normal Life

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After Total Knee Replacement, 98 Percent Of Patients Return To Work and Normal Life

August 20, 2013
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Ninety-eight percent of total knee replacement (TKR) patients who were working before surgery returned to work after surgery, and of those patients, 89 percent returned to their previous position, according to new research presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

Total knee replacement, or arthroplasty, among the most widely performed procedures in the world, is known to successfully relieve pain and restore function in patients with advanced knee arthritis. In the study, "Do Patients Return to Work after Total Knee Arthroplasty?" an independent third party survey center provided questionnaires and interviewed more than 660 TKR patients (ages 18 to 60) from five major medical centers 1-to-5 years after surgery. Definitions from the U.S. Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles were used to categorize the patients' physical job demands as sedentary, light, medium, heavy or very heavy. 

Complete data was collected on 661 TKR patients (average age 54.2; 61.3 percent female). Among the outcomes:
  • Nearly 75 percent of patients (493) were employed during the three months prior to their TKR and 98 percent returned to work after surgery. Of these patients, 89 percent successfully returned to the job they had prior to surgery.
  • Approximately 13 percent of the patients had sedentary jobs; 11 percent, light jobs; 24 percent, medium; 23 percent, heavy; and, 29 percent very heavy.
  • According to work type the return to work rate was 95 percent among sedentary employees, 91 percent among those in jobs deemed light; 100 percent in medium jobs, 98 percent in heavy jobs, and 97 percent in very heavy jobs.
  • Men were more likely to have worked during the three months before surgery (83 percent versus 70 percent) but of those patients the rates returning to work after surgery were similar (96 percent of men versus 99 percent of women).
"When pain and suffering from end-stage degenerative joint disease of the knee compromises a patient's ability to maintain gainful employment, total knee (replacement) is successful in keeping the patient in the work force," said lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Adolph V. Lombardi, Jr., MD. "Returning patients back to work not only gives the patient a sense of fulfillment, but also is economically beneficial to our society." 

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