Question:I am an over-the-road trucker. I need a total hip replacement but can't be off work too long. How long does it take most people to get back behind the wheel?
Answer:Return to work, sports, driving, or other activities varies based on several factors. Your age and general health and fitness can make a difference. Your recovery can be delayed if you are an older adult or if you have other health problems such as diabetes or heart disease.
The type of surgery you have can also make a difference. The newer minimally invasive surgery (MIS) uses smaller incisions with less blood loss. Usually, there is a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.
Several studies have been done to track return to function. The average patient used a cane for two weeks. The average time to go up and down stairs without assistance was three weeks. Walking half a mile took place six weeks later.
Patients can actually go without a walker or cane whenever they feel comfortable doing so. Driving may be more dependent on the use of pain medications. You should not drive while still taking narcotic-based drugs used for pain after surgery.
Driving probably isn't the only issue for you. Most OTR truckers are driving (sitting) for long hours. Getting in and out of the cab can be a challenge at first. The job often requires heavy lifting or handling heavy materials. Your decision to return to work will be based on all the variables mentioned.
Talk to your surgeon about your particular situation. Find out what type of surgery will be done and what you might be able to expect in a best-case/worst case scenario. Plan on something in between as your likely timeframe.Mark W. Pagnano, MD, et al. Patients Preferred a Mini-Posterior THA to a Contralateral Two-Incision THA. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. December 2006. No. 453. Pp. 156-159.
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