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Spine J. 2018 Sep;18(9):1694-1714. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2018.05.030. Epub 2018 May 22.

Return to work following surgery for lumbar radiculopathy: a systematic review.

Author information

1
I-CHER, Interuniversity Center for Health Economics Research; Pain in Motion International Research Group; Department of Public Health (GEWE), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building K, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Physiotherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy, Faculty of Physical Education & Physiotherapy (KIMA), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building F, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Physical Medicine and Physiotherapy, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Jette, Belgium. Electronic address: eva.huysmans@vub.be.
2
Pain in Motion International Research Group; Department of Physiotherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy, Faculty of Physical Education & Physiotherapy (KIMA), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building F, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Neurosurgery, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
3
I-CHER, Interuniversity Center for Health Economics Research; Department of Public Health (GEWE), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building K, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
4
Department of Neurosurgery, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
5
Department of Neurosurgery, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Center for Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Manual Therapy (MANU), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
6
Pain in Motion International Research Group; Department of Physiotherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy, Faculty of Physical Education & Physiotherapy (KIMA), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building F, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Physical Medicine and Physiotherapy, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
7
Department of Public Health (GEWE), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Building K, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium; Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Jette, Belgium.
8
Interface Demography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; Health Inequalities Research Group (GREDS), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27, 08005 Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract

BACKGROUND CONTEXT:

Informing patients about postoperative return to work (RTW) expectations is of utmost importance because of the influence of realistic expectations on RTW outcomes.

PURPOSE:

We aimed to give an overview of the duration of sick leave and RTW rates after surgery for lumbar radiculopathy and to list predictors of and factors related to RTW.

STUDY DESIGN:

A systematic review was carried out.

METHODS:

A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, and SCOPUS. Full-text articles on RTW following surgery for lumbar radiculopathy were included through double-blind screening. Risk of bias was assessed using a modified version of the Downs and Black checklist.

RESULTS:

Sixty-three full-text articles (total sample size: 7,100 patients) were included. Risk of bias was scored low to high. Mean duration of sick leave ranged from 0.8 to 20 weeks. Within 0.1-240 months post surgery, 3%-100% of patients resumed work. Most important predictors for work resumption were preoperative work status, presence of comorbidities, age, sex and duration of preoperative symptoms. Duration of sick leave can be predicted by the preoperative level of pain or disability and presence of symptoms of depression, occupational mental stress, and lateral disc prolapse. Furthermore, less invasive surgical techniques were found to result in better RTW outcomes compared with more invasive techniques.

CONCLUSIONS:

Diverse results were found for RTW rates and duration of sick leave. Preoperative work status, presence of comorbidities, and several demographic factors were retrieved as predictors of RTW and duration of sick leave.

KEYWORDS:

Leg pain; Low back; Radiculopathy; Return to work; Sick leave; Vocational outcomes

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