Affecting 50 million adults in the United States, the pain and disability of arthritis frequently necessitates joint replacement surgery. As the number of Americans affected by arthritis is expected to increase, a new study finds relief for those who undergo the painful orthopedic procedures.

Researchers found that the drug pregabalin, when administered before and after total knee replacement surgery, significantly decreased the incidence of chronic pain while increasing and expediting patient mobility after surgery.

For the trial, 240 patients having knee replacement were divided in two groups. Half of the patients received 300 milligrams of pregabalin 2 hours before surgery and repeated doses of 150 milligrams twice a day for 14 days following surgery. The remaining patients received a matching placebo at the same time intervals. After surgery all patients received pain medication through a catheter using a patient controlled epidural device.

The principal finding of the study was the dramatic decrease in the incidence of chronic neuropathic pain in patients who received pregabalin. Six months following surgery, 0% of patients in the pregabalin group reported the incidence of chronic pain compared to 5.3%of patients in the placebo group.

Patients who received pregabalin experienced a greater knee range of motion (ROM) following surgery, with the ability to perform simple tasks when returning home, such as climbing stairs with a ROM of 85 degrees compared to a ROM of 79 degrees for the placebo group. Patients can climb stairs at 83 degrees of knee flexion, descend stairs at 90 degrees and rise from a chair at 90 degrees.

[Source: Newswise]