Knee Replacement and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide
Most of us will experience knee pain during our lifetimes. This pain can stop us from doing the things we love, and it can even rule out simple activities like taking a walk or sitting down comfortably to read a book. When knee pain gets this severe, a knee replacement may offer much-needed relief.
However, not everyone who undergoes a total knee replacement can return to work and enjoy their life as they knew it. In these cases, long-term and short-term disability insurance can help.
To learn more about knee replacement and disability claims, keep reading.
What Is a Knee Replacement?
Our knees are remarkably complicated joints. Knees have many parts, such as:
- Patella (the kneecap)
- Two C-shaped pieces of cartilage, called the medial and lateral menisci, that absorb shocks and prevent bone-on-bone friction
- Ligaments, including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Articular cartilage
- Bursae (fluid-filled sacs that help the knee move smoothly)
The complexity of the knee leaves it vulnerable to injury. Trauma, degenerative wear and tear, and diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can damage bones, erode cartilage, and constrict joint spaces. These types of injuries can cause excruciating pain, limit your range of motion, and prevent you from sitting, standing, and walking for extended periods. The chronic pain from a knee injury can even impact your mental health and make it difficult to concentrate.
The aim of a knee replacement is to reduce your pain and improve your range of motion. A knee replacement is a significant surgery that involves:
- Removing damaged cartilage and part of the underlying bone
- Replacing these structures with metal hardware, which typically is cemented into place
- Resurfacing the patella if needed
- Inserting a spacer between the metal implants so the joints can move smoothly and freely
For many people, a knee replacement is a surgery of last resort, performed only after less invasive options like physical and injection therapies fail to control the pain. However, knee replacements are also becoming more and more common. Today, surgeons in the U.S. perform about 600,000 total knee replacements each year.
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What Should I Expect After a Knee Replacement?
Recovering from a knee replacement isn’t an easy process. Your body will need to adjust to the artificial joint, and you’ll need to rebuild muscle strength. The recovery process will probably involve physical therapy, follow-up appointments with your orthopedic surgeon, and pain management services.
Unfortunately, many knee replacement patients make some unpleasant discoveries in the weeks, months, and years after their knee replacement. These discoveries may include:
- The surgery rarely restores a knee’s full range of motion
- Post-operative clicking, popping, and pain are common
- Implant issues can complicate recovery
- Some patients deal with infections and blood clots
- Hardware can loosen, causing cracking and other damage
- Most knee replacements last for a maximum of 15–20 years
It can be frustrating to realize you won’t regain all the function you lost. Even worse, you may find yourself still unable to work after your total knee replacement.
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If I Replace My Knee, Can I Get Disability Insurance Benefits?
Many people experience good results after a knee replacement, with an estimated 85% of knee replacement patients returning to work within a year. However, that leaves 15% of patients who can’t return to gainful employment after their difficult surgeries.
The problem isn’t limited to knee replacement patients who have physically demanding jobs, either. Even patients who work in a typical office setting sometimes discover they can’t stand or walk well enough to perform their work. Other patients find they can’t maintain their focus due to the combination of ongoing pain and medication side effects.
If you find yourself unable to work after a knee replacement surgery, you may be eligible for disability insurance benefits. The strength of your claim will depend on your symptoms, your medical records’ clarity, your professional background, and the terms and conditions of your disability insurance plan. To learn more about your options, get in touch with an experienced disability lawyer.
Bryant Legal Group: Experienced Chicago Disability Insurance Lawyers
If you’re still struggling after a total knee replacement or any other joint surgery, it’s time to build a plan for your future. At Bryant Legal Group, we assist disabled individuals throughout Chicago and Illinois with their complex disability insurance claims.
Arthritis by the numbers. (2018). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.arthritis.org/Documents/Sections/About-Arthritis/arthritis-facts-stats-figures.pdf
Sankar, A., Davis, A.M., Palangas, M.P., Beaton, D.E., Badley, E.M., & Gignac, M.A. (October, 2013). Return to work and workplace activity limitations following total hip or knee replacement. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 21(10), 1485–1493. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1063458413008418
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.