Surgical treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis: Patients' postoperative disability and working capacity
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A total of 439 patients operated on for lumbar spinal stenosis during the period 1974–1987 was re-examinated and evaluated for working and functional capacity approximately 4 years after the decompressive surgery. The assessment of subjective disability was based on the Oswestry low-back pain questionnaire. The proportion of excellent-to-good outcomes was 62% (women 57%, men 65%). The ability to work before or after the operation and a history of no prior back surgery were variables predictive of a good outcome. Before the operation 86 patients were working, 223 patients were on sick leave, and 130 patients were retired. After the operation 52 of the employed patients and 70 of the unemployed patients returned to work. None of the retired patients returned to work. In logistic regression analysis the ability to work preoperatively, age under 50 years at the time of operation and the absence of prior back surgery predicted a postoperative ability to work. Our results suggest that more attention should be focussed on the diagnosis of spinal stenosis and on the timing of the operative intervention.
Key wordsLumbar spinal stenosis Low back pain Oswestry questionnaire Decompressive surgery
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