Men take longer than women to recover from knee replacement surgery, but after a year, they catch up and there are no differences in surgery outcomes at that time, a new study has found.
The discovery was made by Thoralf Liebs, from Hassenpflug University of the Schleswig-Holstein Medical Center in Germany, and colleagues.
To determine whether women are worse off than men after knee replacement operations, Liebs and his co-authors analysed data from three German multi-centre trials.
The data evaluated rehabilitation measures after standard unisex knee arthroplasty in 494 patients - 141 men and 353 women.
The authors looked at self-reported physical function three, six, 12 and 24 months after surgery as well as leg-specific stiffness and pain.
Women were on average three years older than men at the time of surgery and were more physically limited and in greater pain than men. At three and six months after surgery, women showed greater improvements in function, and reduced pain than men.
When the authors took age, BMI (body mass index) and co-morbidities into account, the gender difference remained at three months after surgery but not at six months.
"We do not know yet why women recover faster from surgery than men," the authors said.
"It could be because of women's lower preoperative health-related quality of life, whereby they have more to gain from surgery, or because of other speculative factors such as different postoperative activity levels, psychological factors, or different utilization of treatment.
"It is too early to say," they concluded.
The findings have been published online in Springer's journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.