When can patients safely drive after a total knee replacement?
Patients usually want to get back to their normal activities as soon as and as safely as they possibly can after undergoing total knee replacement surgery. Driving is an integral aspect of activity resumption to re-establish social and recreational independence as one has to get around.
Due to the increased longevity of the population and an associated increase in age-related degenerative conditions like arthritis, the number of total knee replacements around the world will increase rapidly.
3-D printed patient-specific instrumented (PSI) guides/blocks that are custom made for the patient involve a smaller incision with minimal soft tissue disruption and improved accuracy in Knee replacement (reference below). This also promotes enhanced recovery after knee replacement surgery where patients mobilise early and enable rapid recovery, as well as increased postoperative comfort and motion.
Studies have demonstrated that if patients are unable to drive, it presents a significant obstacle, and in the older population, the inability to drive may be associated with reduced mobility, loneliness and increased incidences of depression. Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of returning early to work following a joint replacement for both social and economic reasons.
Dr Nizam has done one of the largest studies where 160 PSI total knee replacements were evaluated with a mean age of 68 (45-90 years).
The results indicated that 73% of patients had already resumed driving within the first 3 weeks after total knee replacement surgery- 10% resumed driving within the first post-operative week, 52 (35%) in the second week and 41 (28%) in the third week. Working patients returned to work within 5 to 120 days (mean 26 days) after total knee replacement surgery.
There was no significant difference in the time taken to resume driving between the operative side (left vs right-sided) surgery, especially after the 1st week.
80.92% of patients informed that they were more comfortable driving after undergoing total knee replacement surgery than before surgery as their pain and stiffness were now eliminated. This also made it easier for them to enter and exit the vehicle.
After total knee replacement surgery with our technique, patients can safely resume driving within 2 weeks after PSI total knee replacement and return to work within 3 weeks after surgery if they are deemed medically fit and safe.