Return to work after surgery for lumbar disc herniation. A rehabilitation-oriented approach in insurance medicine

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1999 May 1;24(9):872-6. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199905010-00007.


Study design: An intervention study by the medical advisers of a social security sickness fund on a mandatorily insured patient population after open discectomy for herniated lumbar intervertebral disc. The medical advisers were randomized into two groups: a control group (n = 30) and an intervention group (n = 30).

Objectives: To compare a rehabilitation-oriented approach in insurance medicine focused primarily on early mobilization and early resumption of professional activities with the usual claim-based practice.

Summary of background data: This study included 710 patients, with a mean age of 39.2 years, who underwent surgery for herniated lumbar disc.

Methods: Medical advisers in the rehabilitation-oriented group examined the patients monthly, starting at 6 weeks after the surgical intervention. They used a newly developed protocol to motivate the patients and treating physicians toward social and professional reintegration.

Results: At 52 weeks, 10.1% of the patients guided by medical advisers from the rehabilitation-oriented group had not resumed work in contrast to 18.1% of the patients in the control group. It was statistically proven that this effect also holds during the follow-up period.

Conclusions: A rehabilitation-oriented approach by the medical advisers of social security can increase the probability of a return to work for patients after lumbar disc herniation surgery.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Major Medical*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / physiopathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / rehabilitation*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / methods*
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Work Capacity Evaluation*