(HealthDay News) — Total knee arthroplasty can temporarily return the joint to an earlier, better level of function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, new research suggests. The study was published online July 20 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Kaleb Michaud, PhD, an associate professor of internal medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues examined a large group of rheumatoid arthritis patients to assess how total knee arthroplasty affects patient pain levels and other factors related to quality of life. The investigators looked at information for patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty between 1999–2012. Of the 18,897 study patients, they focused on 834 with rheumatoid arthritis and 315 with osteoarthritis who had undergone the surgery at about the same age (mid-60s). These patients responded to questions about pain and function before the surgery, at the time they had surgery, and six months after their operation. The researchers then compared those ratings across time points.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, the patients experienced a significant decrease in pain following the operation, as well as improved function, the researchers found. Those with rheumatoid arthritis also reported that they had fewer tender joints after their procedure.
“Total knee arthroplasty is highly effective in reducing clinically relevant knee pain to a greater extent than other subjective health-related quality of life indices in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, although this improvement is less marked as compared to osteoarthritis patients,” the authors conclude. “Total knee arthroplasty serves as a ‘time machine’ via which patients can return to a less disabled lifestyle, before the arthritic process catches up.”