A new study released by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons turned up some surprising results: knee and hip replacements surgery can improve patients’ marriages.

It’s well-known that osteoarthritis patients who undergo joint replacement surgery experience emotional improvements. But now, we know that quality of life for a patient’s spouse improves as well, according to Michael Tanzer, chair of orthopedic research at McGill University Health Center.

“It started with a thank you note,” said Tanzer. “My patient’s wife 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. This one gesture of gratitude made me think about the impact of joint replacement surgery in a way I had taken for granted.”

Tanzer and his team conducted a study of 33 couples with an average age of 68 years old. The study revealed:

  • 85% of respondents reported an improvement in mobility
  • 73% reported a resumption of sports and leisure
  • 70% reported improvement in pain
  • 33% reported improvement in their social and family lives

Patients’ spouses also reported that their happiness had increased as a result of the procedure and recovery. The primary advantages reported by spouses included:

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

For patients considering knee or hip replacement surgery, the study serves as evidence that these procedures can help in more ways than one.