Driving after Surgery

Many of our patients are apporpriately anxious to regain their independence after surgery by driving. However, some of the post-operative medications, and restrictions on your operative extremity can make this a hazardous endeavor. Here are some basic guidlines to help you decide when it is the right time to get back behind the wheel.

Concerns with driving

  • Our main concern with driving is the safety of you and others on the road
  • Most of our patients feel comfortable driving around 2-6 weeks after hip or knee surgery
  • For shoulder or elbow surgery, patients may not feel comfortable driving until > 4-6 weeks after surgery.  As a rule, you must be cleared to be out of your sling by your surgeon prior to driving.

Minimizing the risk of driving

  • You should not drive while you are taking any narcotic pain medicines, this is considered “driving under the influence.
  • Start out driving in an empty lot or on a quiet road to ensure you feel physically and mentally up to driving.
  • If you've had upper extremity surgery and especially if you drive a manual tramission care, be sure you abide by your post operative restrictions and can still control the car safely.

The bottom line

  • Legally as physicians, we are unable to officially clear you to drive after surgery.
  • We can only provide you with some general common sense guidelines.
  • Ultimately, only you can determine when you feel like you can safely control your vehicle post-operatively.  The right time varies for each patient.
  • Please seriously consider the safety of yourself and others on the road.