Sick leave in Sweden before and after total joint replacement in hip and knee osteoarthritis patientsKjerstin Stigmar, Leif E Dahlberg, Caddie Zhou, Helena Jacobson Lidgren, Ingemar F Petersson & Martin Englund
Background and purpose — Little is know about patterns of sick leave in connection with total hip and knee joint replacement (THR and TKR) in patients with osteoarthritis (OA).
Patients and methods — Using registers from southern Sweden, we identified hip and knee OA patients aged 40–59 years who had a THR or TKR in the period 2004–2012. Patients who died or started on disability pension were excluded. We included 1,307 patients with THR (46% women) and 996 patients with TKR (56% women). For the period 1 year before until 2 years after the surgery, we linked individual-level data on sick leave from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. We created a matched reference cohort from the general population by age, birth year, and area of residence (THR: n = 4,604; TKR: n = 3,425). The mean number of days on sick leave and the proportion (%) on sick leave 12 and 24 months before and after surgery were calculated.
Results — The month after surgery, about 90% of patients in both cohorts were on sick leave. At the two-year follow-up, sick leave was lower for both cohorts than 1 year before surgery, except for men with THR, but about 9% of the THR patients and 12–17% of the TKR patients were still sick-listed. In the matched reference cohorts, sick leave was constant at around 4–7% during the entire study period.
Interpretation — A long period of sick leave is common after total joint replacement, especially after TKR. There is a need for better knowledge on how workplace adjustments and rehabilitation can facilitate the return to work and can postpone surgery.