Return to work after spinal stenosis surgery and the patient’s quality of life

Aleksandra Truszczyńska 1, 2, 3  ,  
Kazimierz Rąpała 1, 4,  
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Centre of Postgraduate Medical Education, Prof. A. Gruca Independent Public Research Hospital, Otwock, Poland
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education, Biała Podlaska, Poland
Faculty of Rehabilitation, Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education, Marymoncka 34, 01-968, Warszawa, Poland
Physiotherapy Department, University of Social Science, Warszawa, Poland
Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warszawa, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2013;26(3):394–400
Introduction: The return to work of patients who undergo spinal surgery poses important medical and social challenge. Objectives: 1) To establish whether patients who undergo spinal stenosis surgery later return to work. 2) To establish the patient's attitude towards employment. 3) To assess the quality of life of the patients and its influence on their attitude to work. Materials and Methods: The study population consisted of 58 patients aged from 21 to 80 years (the mean age was 52.33±14.12). There were 29 women (50%) and 29 men (50%) in the group. The patients' quality of life was measured by the use of the WHOQOL-BREF instrument. Individual interviews were conducted 3 to 8 months (a mean of 5.72 months ±1.6) after the surgery. Results: 1) Although 13 patients (22.3%) returned to work, 44 (75.9%) did not, these being manual workers of vocational secondary education. 2) Almost half of the patients (27 patients, i.e. 44%) intend to apply for disability pension, 16 patients (27.6%) consider themselves unfit to work, 22 patients (37.9%) do not feel like working again. 3) The quality of life of the patients decreased. Domain scores for the WHOQOL-BREF are transformed to a 0-100 scale. The mean physical health amounted to 60.67 (±16.31), the mean psychological health was 58.78 (±16.01), while the mean social relations with family and friends were 59.91 (±20.69), and the mean environment 59.62 (±12.48). Conclusions: 1) A total of 75% of the patients operated for lumbar spinal stenosis do not return to their preoperative work. Difficulties in returning to work and decreased quality of life are associated with female sex, lower-level education, hard physical work and low income. 2) Physical health, psychological health, social relations and environment decreased to the mean of approximately 60. 3) The quality of life of the patients who did return to work was similar to that of healthy people.