Recent Pain Management Strategies May Be Key to Knee Replacement Recovery

April 1st 2016

Although total knee replacement is frequently performed to treat knee arthritis, the procedure is often associated with a number of adverse events, including postoperative pain and impaired mobility.

Although total knee replacement (TKR) is frequently performed to treat knee arthritis, the procedure is often associated with a number of adverse events, including postoperative pain and impaired mobility. However, team-based approaches that use newer pain management strategies could contribute to improved outcomes among patients who undergo TKR, according to a recent study.

The study, which was published in theJournal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, compared traditional post-TKR pain management approaches with recently-developed multimodal protocols that included the use of a combination of pain medications both before and after surgery, regional anesthesia with preoperative nerve blocks, and intraoperative pain injections within the knee.

The researchers found that patients who were treated with the newer strategies reported lower pain severity ratings in the first few days following surgery, fewer adverse events, and greater satisfaction with their postoperative pain control than those who were treated with the more traditional methods. Additionally, the use of multimodal protocols succeeded at reducing the amount of narcotic drugs needed to manage pain while better enabling patients to participate in early physical therapy.

The study authors advised providers to avoid prescribing long-term chronic narcotics to their patients prior to surgery, as the use of these drugs can lower their patients’ pain threshold and lead to greater levels of postoperative pain. The researchers also noted that patients should not stop taking their oral medications abruptly, as doing so may increase their risk of experiencing rebound pain or developing chronic pain. Finally, the authors emphasized the importance of a strong support system of family and friends in helping patients recover quickly.

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