Intraarticular botulinum toxin A for refractory painful total knee arthroplasty: a randomized controlled trial

J Rheumatol. 2010 Nov;37(11):2377-86. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.100336. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


Objective: To assess short-term efficacy of single intraarticular botulinum toxin (IA-BoNT/A) injection in patients with chronically painful total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in a randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blind study.

Methods: Patients with chronic TKA pain (pain > 6 on 0-10 scale and > 6 months post-TKA) evaluated in and referred from orthopedic surgery clinics were recruited. The primary outcome, proportion of patients with clinically meaningful decrease of at least 2 points on 0-10 visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, was compared between treatment groups at 2 months using comparison of proportions test and for all efficacy timepoints (2, 3, and 4 months) using generalized estimating equations (GEE). Secondary outcomes of global assessment, function, and quality of life were compared using GEE, duration of pain relief by t-test, and adverse events by chi-square test.

Results: In total, 54 patients with 60 painful TKA were randomized, with main analyses restricted to one TKA per patient (49 TKA in 49 patients). Mean age was 67 years, 84% were men, and mean duration of TKA pain was 4.5 years. A significantly greater proportion of patients (71%) in the IA-BoNT/A group compared to IA-placebo (35%) achieved clinically meaningful reduction in VAS pain at 2 months (p = 0.028) and at all efficacy timepoints (p = 0.019). Duration of meaningful pain relief was significantly greater after IA-BoNT/A, 39.6 days (SD 50.4) compared to IA-placebo, 15.7 days (SD 22.6; p = 0.045). Statistically significantly better scores were seen in IA-BoNT/A vs IA-placebo for all efficacy timepoints for the following outcomes: "very much improved" on physician global assessment of change (p = 0.003); Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index physical function (p = 0.026), stiffness (p = 0.004), and total scores (p = 0.024); and Short-Form 36 pain subscale score (p = 0.049). Number of total and serious adverse events was similar between groups, with no patients in either group with new objective motor or sensory deficits during followup.

Conclusion: In this single-center randomized trial, single IA-BoNT/A injection provided clinically meaningful short-term improvements in pain, global assessment, and function in patients with chronic painful TKA. A multicenter trial is needed to confirm these findings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / administration & dosage*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Patient Selection
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A