Interventions to Manage Pain Catastrophizing Following Total Knee Replacement: A Systematic Review

J Pain Res. 2022 Jun 13;15:1679-1689. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S353385. eCollection 2022.


Background: Pain catastrophizing is a maladaptive cognitive strategy that is associated with increased emotional responses and poor pain outcomes. Total knee replacement procedures are on the rise and 20% of those who have the procedure go on to have ongoing pain. Pain catastrophizing complicates this pain and management of this is important for recovery from surgery and prevention of chronic pain. This study examines the effect of interventions on PC for patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR).

Methods: Multiple search engines were searched from inception up to March 2021 for relevant studies measuring PC in adults who have undergone TKR. Studies were screened using the Downs and Black Checklist. We included 10 studies (n = 574) which recruited peri surgical TKR participants. Effect sizes were calculated and compared on effect of intervention on PC.

Results: Five studies examined the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy-based intervention on PC with low to moderate effects. Two studies examined the effect of a pain neuroscience education on PC with small effects short term. One study examined the effect of hypnotic therapy on PC with small, short-term effect (1 month) but large effect at 6 months. One study compared the effect of an isometric quadricep exercise with auditory and visual feedback on PC to treatment as usual with small, short-term effects. One study compared the effects of an activity and goal setting diary on PC with a moderate effect at 4 weeks.

Conclusion: PC is a modifiable characteristic. Several interventions show modest benefit, however more research is needed to aid in clinical decision-making for this population. Interventions are most likely to produce benefits when they are targeted to people with high levels of PC.

Keywords: fear of pain; fear-avoidance; pain catastrophizing; psychological; psychosocial; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review