Association of Occupational and Physical Therapy With Duration of Prescription Opioid Use After Hip or Knee Arthroplasty: A Retrospective Cohort Study of Medicare Enrollees

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Jul;102(7):1257-1266. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2021.01.086. Epub 2021 Feb 19.


Objective: To establish whether nonpharmacologic interventions, such as occupational and physical therapy, were associated with a shorter duration of prescription opioid use after hip or knee arthroplasty.

Design: This retrospective cohort study used data from a national 5% Medicare sample database between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2015.

Setting: Home health or outpatient.

Participants: Adults 66 years or older with an inpatient total hip (n=4272) or knee (n=9796) arthroplasty (N=14,068).

Interventions: We dichotomized patients according to whether they had received any nonpharmacologic pain intervention within 1 year after hospital discharge (eg, occupational or physical therapy evaluation). Using Cox proportional hazards, we treated exposure to nonpharmacologic interventions as time dependent to determine if skilled therapy was associated with duration of opioid use.

Main outcome measures: Duration of prescription opioid use.

Results: Median time to begin nonpharmacologic interventions was 91 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 74-118d) for hip and 27 days (95% CI, 27-28d) for knee arthroplasty. Median time to discontinue prescription opioids was 16 days (hip: 95% CI, 15-16d) and 30 days (knee: 95% CI, 29-31d). Nonpharmacologic interventions delivered with home health increased the likelihood of discontinuing opioids after hip (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.01-1.30) and knee (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.03-1.17) arthroplasty. A sensitivity analysis found these estimates to be robust and conservative.

Conclusions: Occupational and physical therapy with home health was associated with a shorter duration of prescription opioid use after hip and knee arthroplasty. Occupational and physical therapy can address pain and sociobehavioral factors associated with postsurgical opioid use.

Keywords: Analgesics; Arthroplasty; Medicare; Occupational therapy; Pain management; Physical therapy modalities; Rehabilitation; opioid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / rehabilitation*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid