Longitudinal Postoperative Course of Pain and Dysfunction Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

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Although the majority of patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) report substantial improvement in pain and function, a significant subset experience persistent postsurgical pain and dysfunction. Better understanding of the longitudinal postoperative course is needed, including the association between patient status following physical rehabilitation at 6-weeks post-TKA, to 6-months outcomes. This study aims to described the postoperative course of TKA and examine variables associated with change in pain and functioning between 6-weeks and 6-months post-TKA.


In this longitudinal study of 223 participants, assessments of analgesic intake, depression, anxiety, pain catastrophizing, dysfunction, resting and range of motion pain, and pain sensitivity were completed at 6-weeks post-TKA. Analgesic intake, pain ratings, and dysfunction data were also collected at 6-months post-TKA. Pain and dysfunction ratings were divided into none-mild and moderate-severe categories.


Between 6-weeks and 6-months post-TKA, 75% of the sample stayed in the same pain category, 20% improved, and 5% worsened. In terms of functional changes between 6 weeks and 6 months, 65% of the sample stayed in the same functional category, whereas 31% improved and 5% worsened.


These findings demonstrate that the majority of patients’ pain and functioning remains stable between 6 weeks and 6 months post-TKA. However, a notable subset continues to improve or worsen in pain and functioning and the current study identifies variables associated with these changes.

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