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Worker's Compensation and Recovery from TKR

Workers compensation (WC) insurance can be vital for people who are injured on the job. But WC patients more often have chronic pain and problems after surgery. No one is exactly sure why.

These authors looked at how 21 WC patients did after total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. The WC patients were compared to a control group of 16 TKR patients who did not have WC. The average follow-up time was 4.5 years.

Both groups had much better knee function after TKR. Both groups were very satisfied with the results of surgery. However, the WC group had worse function and pain scores than the control group. Only five of the 21 patients in the WC group went back to the job they had before their injuries.

No one is sure exactly what this means. Were the jobs too physically demanding for TKR patients? Were patients using injury as an excuse to change jobs? Were accommodations made in the workplace to help the WC group return to their jobs? A larger, more in-depth study is needed to understand why WC workers don't always return to their jobs after TKR. The authors say that returning WC patients to their previous jobs might not be a realistic goal. They also remind doctors that they should be sure not to overlook the mental state of injured workers after TKR surgery.

Khaled Saleh, MD, MSc, FRCSC, et al. Total Knee Arthroplasty in Patients on Workers' Compensation: A Matched Cohort Study with an Average Follow-Up of 4.5 Years. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. April 2004. Vol. 19. No. 3. Pp. 310-312.

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