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Can a Knee Replacement Improve Your Marriage?

An Asian man and woman walking through an outdoor market. The man is using a cane.

“It started with a thank you note,” says Michael Tanzer, an orthopaedic surgeon at McGill University Health Center in Montréal, Québec. The note came from the wife of a patient who’d recently had joint replacement therapy. “[She] wrote to tell me how delighted she was to have her husband’s quality of life back because of the dramatic effect it had on her own life and their marriage.”

Candidates for joint replacement often live with chronic pain that limits their activities, and their spouses often take on a caregiver role. In addition to the stresses of being a caregiver, spouses of people with persistent pain often report lower levels of marital satisfaction, higher rates of depression and a lower quality of life. After Dr. Tanzer received that thank-you note, he was inspired to conduct a study of people whose spouses had undergone hip replacement surgery or total knee replacement to see if the surgery helped their spouses as well. Sure enough, the results showed the spouses’ quality of life improved after their partners had successful surgery.

For the spouses, the main advantages of the patient’s joint surgery included:

  • Ability to carry on with social and leisure activities with their partner (70%)
  • No longer witnessed the patient suffering (61%)
  • Diminished caregiver burden (54%)
  • A sense of independence to resume their normal life (54%)
  • Improved marital relationship (54%)
  • Improved social and family life (27%)
  • Freedom to travel (27%)

The spouses also said that their lives had improved with respect to participating in physical and leisure activities with their significant other.

If you’ve had a joint replacement, you may find that as you regain your strength and abilities, your spouse or partner seems to feel better as well. How nice that the procedure can benefit both of you!

Source: IlluminAge reporting on a study from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons