In an article published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, authors Stryon et al review factors that influence return to work after a total knee replacement. They found that the average time to return to work was almost nine weeks following surgery. Several factors were associated with a quicker return to work. These included being female, self employed, higher mental health scores, and fewer preoperative health issues. A handicap accessible workplace also allowed a quicker return to work than average.
Factors associated with slower return to work included having less preoperative pain in the affected knee; having a more physically demanding job, and workers receiving worker’s compensation.
This study points out the importance of motivation and physical health in influencing the return to work. An obvious goal of joint replacement surgery is to enhance the ability to return to work and continue to be a functioning individual in the overall work force. This study adds some objective data to how long it takes to return to work based on several confounding factors.
—William P. Barrett, MD