One of the first questions our patients ask is “How soon can I drive?” The truth is, there are no published guidelines regarding when it is safe to drive after an orthopedic injury or surgery.
Each person’s injury and recovery are unique, so please speak to a Structure Orthopaedics traumatologist before getting behind the wheel. Remember that rate of recovery varies by patient and depends on the severity of the injury, your overall health and how well you follow the recommendations provided by our clinicians.
According to insurance companies and law enforcement agencies, you are ultimately responsible for the decision to drive. The information below is provided to help you make a knowledgeable choice.
General driving recommendations
Based on recent studies by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, you are likely safe to begin driving when ALL of the following are true:
- You are no longer immobilized by a cast, brace, splint, sling or fracture boot.
- You have resumed full weight bearing activities and/or you have full grip capabilities.
- You are no longer using narcotic pain medications.
- Your fracture is fully healed. Studies suggested waiting between 9-12 weeks to return to driving after fractures of long bones in the upper or lower extremities.
After a partial or total hip replacement
Hip-replacement patients cannot drive unless they can maintain hip precautions and walk without assistance — and have been cleared by a physical therapist. You can expect this process to take a minimum of 8 weeks following surgery.
After multiple fractures or spine/head injuries
These complex injuries must be fully healed before driving and patients will need clearance from a Structure Orthopaedics traumatologist. You can expect this process to take at least 3 months after the last surgery.
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