Interventions for the prediction and management of chronic postsurgical pain after total knee replacement: systematic review of randomised controlled trials

BMJ Open. 2015 May 12;5(5):e007387. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007387.


Objectives: Total knee replacement can be a successful operation for pain relief. However, 10-34% of patients experience chronic postsurgical pain. Our aim was to synthesise evidence on the effectiveness of applying predictive models to guide preventive treatment, and for interventions in the management of chronic pain after total knee replacement.

Setting: We conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials using appropriate search strategies in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE from inception to October 2014. No language restrictions were applied.

Participants: Adult patients receiving total knee replacement.

Interventions: Predictive models to guide treatment for prevention of chronic pain. Interventions for management of chronic pain.

Primary and secondary outcome measures: Reporting of specific outcomes was not an eligibility criterion but we sought outcomes relating to pain severity.

Results: No studies evaluated the effectiveness of predictive models in guiding treatment and improving outcomes after total knee replacement. One study evaluated an intervention for the management of chronic pain. The trial evaluated the use of a botulinum toxin A injection with antinociceptive and anticholinergic activity in 49 patients with chronic postsurgical pain after knee replacement. A single injection provided meaningful pain relief for about 40 days and the authors acknowledged the need for a large trial with repeated injections. No trials of multidisciplinary interventions or individualised treatments were identified.

Conclusions: Our systematic review highlights a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of prediction and management strategies for chronic postsurgical pain after total knee replacement. As a large number of people are affected by chronic pain after total knee replacement, development of an evidence base about care for these patients should be a research priority.


Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects*
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Knee / surgery*
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Pain / surgery
  • Pain Management*
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*


  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A