Patient perspectives of pain and function after knee replacement: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies

Carrie E.V. Taylor, Carolyn M. Murray, Tasha R. Stanton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction:Joint replacement surgery typically results in good clinical outcome, although some people experience suboptimal pain relief and functional improvement. Predicting surgical outcome is difficult.Objectives:There is merit in better understanding patients' perspectives of pain and function to identify avoidable problems perceived to contribute to their outcome, to inform prognostic expectations, and to identify potential cointerventions to sit alongside surgery that might mitigate pain/functional problems. Here, we aimed to synthesise the available literature exploring perspectives of people with knee osteoarthritis about their pain and function following joint replacement.Methods:Six electronic databases and 2 websites were searched. Two independent reviewers completed study inclusion, quality assessment, and data extraction. Data were iteratively synthesised using first-, second-, and third-order analyses.Results:Twenty-eight studies were included. Four themes were identified; perceptions of pain and function were inseparable. Theme 1 addressed experiences of recovery after surgery, which often differed from expectations. Theme 2 described the challenges of the pain experience and its functional impact, including the difficulty navigating medication use in context of personal beliefs and perceived stigma. Theme 3 articulated the toll of ongoing problems spanning pain-function-mood, necessitating the need to "endure." Theme 4 encompassed the importance of clinical/social interactions on mood and pain, with reports of concerns dismissed and practical support missing.Conclusions:Together, these findings show that numerous individual considerations beyond the technical aspects of surgery influence experiences of pain and function. A tailored approach addressing these considerations from the patient perspective could provide a basis for improved success of knee replacement surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1006
JournalPain Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 9 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Function
  • Mental health
  • Pain
  • Qualitative
  • Recovery norms
  • Total knee replacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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