Work-Related Concerns

20 – 40% of patients with hip dysplasia will eventually develop osteoarthritis. Many will need surgical intervention to improve their daily quality of live. Along with this physical burden, this can also become a financial burden. It is estimated that over 46 million adults in the USA have osteoarthritis. According to American Journal of Managed Care, the total medical expenditures for patients with arthritis are as high as 89.1billion dollars per year. They further stated (from 1997-2003) that 9.4 % of patients with osteoarthritis were unable to acquire jobs as a result of their illness compared to non-arthritic people. This resulted in an annual wage loss of approximately $3600-$4500 per person.

The number of hip replacement surgeries has increased rapidly as our population has aged in recent years. It is anticipated that the yearly number of total hip replacement surgeries will be approximately 572,000 by 2030. The average age of total hip replacement is around 68 years of age. According to Mobasheri et al., 15% of hip replacements are done in people of working age. In their study, 49 of 51 patients who were employed prior to surgical intervention returned to work after having a hip replacement. The authors further stated that 13 out of 30 patients who were not employed prior to a hip replacement were able to find some form of employment after their operation. The average return to work for the patients undergoing total hip replacement averaged 10.5 weeks.

During rehabilitation for total hip replacement and other hip surgeries there is usually a need to strengthen the hip muscles especially the hip abductors (the muscles that spread the legs appart). Weight loss is always recommended to reduce the strain on the hip joint. While at work, a comfortable seated position is usually recommended in the early stages of healing. However, prolonged sitting can cause recently operated joints to become stiffer. Periodic 5-10 minute walks may allow the recovering patient to keep motion in their joints. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, climbing stairs should be limited until your doctor says that healing and strengthening are adequate for such activities. When climbing stairs it is recommended to step up with the unaffected leg first. Then the affected leg is brought to the same step instead of to the step above. This is slower than normal stair-climbing, but it puts less strain on the painful or operated hip. If you are using a cane or crutches then bring them up to the same step before proceeding. The process is then reversed to go down stairs.

Before any surgery it is always a good idea to ask your orthopedic surgeon about postoperative activities and limitations following surgery.


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