Clinical course of pain and function following total knee arthroplasty: a systematic review and meta-regression

Said Mohamad Sayah, Sascha Karunaratne, Paula R. Beckenkamp, Mark Horsley, Mark J. Hancock, David J. Hunter, Robert D. Herbert, Tarcisio F. de Campos, Daniel Steffens*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is widely considered a successful intervention for osteoarthritis and other degenerative knee diseases. This study addresses the need for a high-quality meta-analysis that outlines the clinical course of pain and function post-TKA. Methods: The review included prospective cohort studies assessing pain or function of patients undergoing primary TKA at baseline (preoperatively) and at least 2 additional time points including one at least 12 months postoperatively. Two reviewers independently screened references, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using the Quality in Prognosis Studies tool. The time course of recovery of pain and function was modeled using fractional polynomial meta-regression. Results: In total, 191 studies with 59,667 patients were included, most with low risk of bias. The variance-weighted mean pain score (/100, 0 = no pain) was 64.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 60.2-67.7) preoperatively, 24.1 (95% CI 20.3-27.9) at 3 months, 20.4 (95% CI 16.7-24.0) at 6 months, and 16.9 (95%CI 13.6-20.3) at 12 months, and remained low (10.1; 95% CI 4.8-15.4) at 10 years postoperatively. The variance-weighted mean function score (/100, 0 = worst function) was 47.1 (95% CI 45.7-48.4) preoperatively, 72.8 (95% CI 71.3-74.4) at 3 months, 76.3 (95% CI 74.7-77.8) at 6 months, and 78.1 (95%CI 76.4-79.7) at 12 months. Function scores were good (79.7; 95% CI 77.9-81.5) at 10 years postoperatively. Conclusion: Patients undergoing primary TKA can expect a large and rapid but incomplete recovery of pain and function in the first postoperative year. At 10 years, the gains in pain scores may still remain while there is an improvement in function.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3993-4002.e37
    Number of pages47
    JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


    • function
    • pain
    • prognosis
    • systematic review
    • total knee arthroplasty


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