A team approach, along with newer pain-management strategies, are key to maximizing outcomes following a total knee replacement (TKR) procedure, a new study suggests.

The literature review study, published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, notes some newer pain-control strategies, according to a media release from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

These include: a combination of pain management medications (eg, oral medications and nerve blocks) taken before and after surgery; regional anesthesia with preoperative nerve blocks performed by an anesthesiologist; and intraoperative pain injections performed by the orthopaedic surgeon within the knee.

Researchers suggest that these pain-control strategies may lower patient pain severity ratings in the first few days following surgery; minimize unwanted side effects more commonly associated with traditional pain control protocols; reduce the overall amount of narcotic pain medication needed for postoperative pain control; and help patients be better able to participate in early postoperative physical therapy and be more satisfied with their postoperative pain control.

In the study, per the release, the researchers offer the following pain-control advice to post-TKR surgery patients: patients should avoid long-term chronic narcotic use for knee arthritis pain control prior to surgery because it can lower the patient’s pain threshold and result in increased postoperative pain; patients should not abruptly stop oral medications as there is a risk of rebound pain and the development of chronic pain. Many patients will use their prescribed medicines for least the first 2 weeks after surgery, then taper off as tolerated.

In addition, pain medication may be necessary beyond the first 2 weeks for certain activities such as physical therapy sessions, but first speak to your orthopaedic surgeon about this; and a strong support system (family, friends, or a combination of both) can be very helpful to the patient in achieving the quickest recovery and return home.

[Source(s): American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Science Daily]