The impact of waiting for total joint replacement on pain and functional status: a systematic review

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Nov;17(11):1420-7. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2009.05.008. Epub 2009 May 20.


Objective: To systematically describe changes in pain and functioning in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) awaiting total joint replacement (TJR), and to assess determinants of this change.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Cochrane Database were searched through June 2008. The reference lists of eligible publications were reviewed. Studies that monitored pain and functioning in patients with hip or knee OA during the waiting list for TJR were analyzed. Data were collected with a pre-specified collection tool. Methodological quality was assessed and a best-evidence analysis was performed to summarize results.

Results: Fifteen studies, of which two were of high quality, were included and involved 788 hip and 858 knee patients (mean age 59-72 and main wait 42-399 days). There was strong evidence that pain (in hip and knee OA) and self-reported functioning (in hip OA) do not deteriorate during a <180 days wait. Conflicting evidence was established for the change on self-reported functioning in patients with knee OA waiting <180 days. Moreover, strong evidence was found for an association between the female gender and intensified pain.

Conclusion: Patients with OA do not experience deterioration in pain or self-reported functional status whilst waiting <180 days for TJR. Changes over a longer waiting period are unclear. To strengthen and complement the present evidence, further high-quality studies are needed, in which preferably also performance-based measures are used.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / psychology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / surgery
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / psychology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Patient Selection
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Waiting Lists