Shane Nho, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Chicago's Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, conducted a study examining the ability of workers’ compensation patients to return to their jobs after hip arthroscopy. It was recently published in the Journal of Hip Preservation Surgery.
Researchers examined 29 workers’ compensation who underwent hip arthroscopy, including age and gender matched controls, and retrospectively reviewed the cases after the patients achieved maximum medical improvement status at one year post-operatively.
Demographic factors; hip outcome score activities with daily living and sports-specific subscales; and a modified Harris Hip Score were all reported.
Here's what they found:
1. The majority — 69 percent, or 20 patients — of workers’ compensation patients were able to return to work without restriction.
2. Patients who failed to return to work had several factors including:
- Prolonged delay between the injury and the corrective procedure
- More concomitant orthopedic injuries
- A higher body mass index
3. The researchers concluded the majority of worker's compensation patients were able to return to work without restrictions.
Dr. Nho says the researchers examined the return-to-work rate of workers’ compensation patients because of their special interest on the topic. Hip arthroscopy is a newer procedure in the workers’ compensation arena and this study could help patients and surgeons decide whether to operate in the future.
"I think it's reassuring that most patients were able to get back to a high level of work following hip surgery for tears and impingements," Dr. Nho says.
Another factor that influenced the research was the tricky nature of workers’ compensation cases.
"The difficulty [with these cases] is that these patients will usually undergo lengthy periods of nonsurgical treatment because of the fact that they might end up seeing a different provider initially. They may go through this because their insurance may delay initially," he says.
Dr. Nho hopes that physicians take away the following from the study:
"Get these patients to the right provider as soon as possible so they can get diagnosed and treated as soon as we can get to them," Dr. Nho says.
Sometimes multiple symptoms like back pain and hip pain delay treatment, making it "much trickier to sort out and treat effectively, to the point where they can resume the work they were doing before," he says. "Our goal is to treat these patients as effectively as possible. Sometimes there are things that are outside of our control."