Postoperative Pain Management After Total Knee Arthroplasty in Elderly Patients: Treatment Options
Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a common surgical procedure in the elderly and is associated with severe pain after surgery and a high incidence of chronic pain. Several factors are associated with severe acute pain after surgery, including psychological factors and severe preoperative pain. Good acute pain control can be provided with multimodal analgesia, including regional anesthesia techniques. Studies have demonstrated that poor acute pain control after TKA is strongly associated with development of chronic pain, and this emphasizes the importance of attention to good acute pain control after TKA. Pain after discharge from hospital after TKA is currently poorly managed, and this is an area where increased resources need to be focused to improve early pain control. This is particularly as patients are often discharged home within 4–5 days after surgery. Chronic pain after TKA in the elderly can be managed with both pharmacological and non-pharmacological techniques. After excluding treatable causes of pain, the simplest approach is with the use of acetaminophen combined with a short course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Careful titration of opioid analgesics can also be helpful with other adjuvants such as the antidepressants or antiepileptic medications used especially for patients with neuropathic pain. Topical agents may provide benefit and are associated with fewer systemic side effects than oral administration. Complementary or psychological therapies may be beneficial for those patients who have failed other options or have depression associated with chronic pain.