Returning to work
after Knee Replacement
Returning to work after knee replacement surgery is a very
important issue that has to be addressed pre operatively when you consult with
your knee replacement surgeon.
Generally speaking, a person should be able to return to
work after 4-6 weeks whether they are still under rehab programs (either with a
therapist or alone).
Let me start off by saying:
going back to work does not mean going back to work, struggling with a lot of
pain. It means regaining your ability to do your job with minimal pain or
without major discomfort. Also, going back to work means happy homemakers doing
house hold chores after recovery.
Returning to work is dependent on many different criteria
but in general it depends on following factors:
Your preoperative physical condition
Your body weight
Your job type
- Age plays very important role in the recovery process and
determines how soon a person can go back to work. A person who is young and in
good physical shape other then arthritic knee pain would be able to easily and
quickly get back to the job after knee replacement surgery in comparison to an
older person who suffers from other health problems.
- Your preoperative health also plays a factor in how soon you
can return to work after knee replacement surgery. A person bad knees alone
would be back sooner in comparison with a person who had other problems before
the operation (like hypertension, stress, diabetes and other life style diseases).
How do all of these other conditions hamper your recovery process? It’s not
precisely known, but from my experience when a person has other problems their enthusiasm
tends to be less and thus causes a delay in the recovery process.
- Body weight also plays a role in determining the patient’s ability
to get back to work. A person with excessive body weight delays the recovery
process, thus slowing down the process. Another related reason is that with
excessive body weight it takes time for the patient’s muscles to be strong
enough to hold body weight properly.
- Although many people will not agree, I have regularly
observed female patients recover faster than male patients. Female patients
have many house hold responsibilities to fulfill along with their job duties if
they are working women. This tends to make females work harder on a
daily basis. This is solely my observation and may not be true.
- The most important determinate of how soon you can get back
to your job after knee replacement surgery is the type of job you do and
the load you are going to put on your
new knees while doing your job. Some office worker can go back to their desk
jobs in few weeks; others with physically demanding jobs take a few weeks
longer than office workers.
- I have seen people and workplaces accommodating their
employee needs by moving them to less physically demanding jobs for first few
weeks after knee joint surgery. You must talk to your workplace before
surgery to find out if they can perform any job related adjustments for you.
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