When is it safe to drive? New study looks at driving after knee surgery

A new study, recently published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, looked at driving after a knee replacement procedure. Researchers in Germany found that a knee replacement on the right leg can affect the patient’s ability to make an emergency stop for over a month after their procedure.

What was interesting was that they also compared patients who’d had a knee replacement on the left side and found that their ability to suddenly stop the car was also impaired.

The study took 40 patients who’d undergone a total knee arthroplasty – half of whom had received a right knee replacement and half the left. In a driving simulator, using an automatic function, the recruits were tested both before the operation and four times in the year post-procedure. On each occasion, they performed ten emergency stop tests and researchers recorded the response time.

In the first test after the surgery, performed eight days later, those who’d received right knee replacements were 30 per cent slower performing an emergency stop than beforehand. Those who’d received a left knee replacement only performed marginally better.

What is a total knee arthroplasty?

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Jonathan Webb specialises in treatment of the knee. Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, replaces damaged bone and cartilage with an artificial joint with the aim of restoring function and relieving the pain that the patient may have been suffering with for many years.

The knee joint is divided into three sections and during a partial knee replacement, Mr Webb will try to retain as much of your undamaged bone, tissue and ligaments as possible. This typically means a faster recovery, but if two or more areas of the knee are affected then a total knee replacement may be required.

When is it safe to drive after a total knee replacement?

The study found that braking times were significantly reduced at the six week test and then at pre-operative levels at 12 weeks on average. Patients undergoing total knee replacement with Mr Jonathan Webb are advised to avoid driving for four to six weeks following a total knee replacement. He also advises practising driving in a quiet cul-de-sac before going out on the open roads and always inform your insurance companies beforehand,

For more information on all aspects of knee surgery please get in touch with Mr Webb’s private secretary or book a consultation at either the London or Bristol clinic.