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25-03-2013 | Orthopaedics | Article

Most joint replacement patients return to work


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medwireNews: More than 90% of patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) return to work after their surgery, research shows.

In fact, the vast majority of patients returned to the same position they held before the procedure.

"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," stated lead researcher Adolph Lombardi (Joint Implant Surgeons, Inc., New Albany, Ohio, USA) in a press release.

Reporting at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2013 annual meeting, Lombardi and co-workers presented data on 661 patients (average age 54 years) who underwent TKR in one of five clinical centers. Of these individuals, 74.6% were employed in the 3 months prior to the TKR.

In total, 91.1% of treated patients returned to work after surgery and 93.3% of these patients returned to the same job.

Of those who returned to work, 92% returned to sedentary positions, 79% returned to light-exertion positions, and 89% returned to moderate-intensity positions. Also, 88% of patients who held jobs that required heavy labor returned to work, as did 78% of those whose work involved very heavy labor.

"Returning patients back to work not only gives the patient a sense of fulfillment, but also is economically beneficial to our society," stated Lombardi.

In a second study presented at the AAOS annual meeting, Anne Lübbeke-Wolff, from Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, and colleagues surveyed physical activity levels before and after total hip replacement (THR).

Their study included 1565 patients, aged 68.4 years on average, who underwent THR. Prior to THR, 39% of individuals were physically active compared with 55% of individuals 5 years after surgery. Similarly, the percentage of patients who reported a sedentary lifestyle also declined, down from 61% before the THR to 45% at 5 years of follow up.

Medical comorbidities, body mass index, primary or secondary osteoarthritis diagnosis prior to surgery, and the patient's preoperative activity level substantially influenced physical activity 5 years after surgery, the team reported.

"Surgery substantially and durably improved physical activity levels in men and women of all age categories, but the level remained somewhat lower than just before the onset of osteoarthritis symptoms," said Lübbeke-Wolff in a press release.

Patients who had previously participated in activities such as bicycling, bowling, golf, mountain hiking, or swimming, and who wished to continue them after surgery, were able to return to these activities, said the researchers.

By medwireNews Reporters

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