Back to Work With a New Knee

Total knee replacement patients often return to work after surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Pain in the knees might make it difficult to work, especially if the job is labor intensive. Most patients who opt for surgery to get a new knee can certainly go back to the work.

More than 90 percent of patients who underwent surgery for a new knee returned to work after surgery, according to research presented at a conference. And more than 93 percent of those patients returned to their previous job.

Total knee replacement surgery, or total knee arthroplasty (TKA), may help keep patients in the workforce when pain from a degenerative knee disease compromises their ability to work, researchers said in a press release.

"Talk to an orthopedic surgeon about knee pain."

Researchers, led by Adolph Lombardi Jr., MD, a physician at Joint Implant Surgeons, Inc. in New Albany, Ohio, looked at how often patients undergoing total knee replacement returned to work.

The study included data from 661 adult patients who received a new knee in the three years before the start of the study. Data was collected independently from the researchers one to five years after surgery from five major medical centers.

Patients were 54 years of age on average, and more than 61 percent were women. About 75 percent of them were employed in the three months before their surgery.

Before surgery, about 13 percent of patients were in sedentary jobs and almost 29 percent were in very physically strenuous jobs.

The rest of participants had jobs that fell in between those two levels of job labor intensity. Almost 11 percent had light labor jobs, 24 percent had medium labor jobs and about 23 percent were in heavy labor jobs.

After surgery, 91.1 percent of the working patients returned to work, researchers found. And 93.3 percent of patients returned to their same job.

Among the sedentary and light labor job workers, about 92 and 79 percent returned, respectively.

Among patients with medium, heavy and very heavy labor jobs, 89 percent, 88 percent and 78 percent returned to their previous occupations.

Men were significantly more likely to go back to work after surgery than women. About 82 percent of men returned compared to 74 percent of women.

"In this group of young, active patients, most returned to work at their usual occupation," researchers wrote in their report.

"While those with sedentary occupations had the highest return to work rate, even those with very heavy jobs returned to work almost 80 percent of the time," they wrote.

The findings, which have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, were presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 4, 2013
Last Updated:
April 6, 2013