In patients with inflammatory arthropathy, orthopedic surgery -- especially joint replacement - has a major impact on pain but less of an effect on other aspects of health, according to a study from Norway.
"Improvement in the measures of physical functioning was generally smaller than in measures of pain," the researchers write in the September Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effectiveness of orthopaedic surgery in patients with inflammatory arthropathies with regard to longitudinal changes in pain, physical function and health-related quality of life and explore differences in effectiveness between replacement versus non-replacement surgery and surgery in the upper versus the lower limb. METHODS: 255 patients (mean age 57.5 years (SD 13.1), 76.7% female) with inflammatory arthropathies underwent orthopaedic surgical treatment and responded to mail surveys at baseline and during follow-up (3, 6, 9 and 12 months). The booklet of questionnaires included the arthritis impact measurement scales 2 (AIMS2), health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), short form 36 (SF-36), EQ-5D and visual analogue scales (VAS) addressing patient global, fatigue, general pain and pain in the actual joint. Standardised response means (SRM) were calculated to estimate the magnitude of improvement. RESULTS: Significant improvement was seen for most of the dimensions of health, the largest improvement for pain in the actual joint (SRM 1.17) at one year follow-up. SRM for AIMS-2 physical, SF-36 physical and HAQ were 0.1, 0.48 and 0.05, respectively. The overall numeric improvement (SRM) in utility was 0.10 (0.37) with EQ-5D and 0.03 (0.27) with SF-6D. Improvement overall was similar after surgery in the upper versus the lower limb, but was larger in patients undergoing replacement surgery than in patients undergoing other surgical procedures (SRM 1.54 vs 1.08 for pain in the actual joint). CONCLUSIONS: Surgical procedures have a major positive impact on pain in the actual joint, but improvement is less in other dimensions of health. Health benefits were larger after replacement surgery than after other surgical procedures.
Orthopaedic surgery in 255 patients with inflammatory arthropathies: longitudinal effects on pain, physical function and health-related quality of life. Osnes-Ringen H, Kvien TK, Henriksen JE, Mowinckel P, Dagfinrud H. Ann Rheum Dis. 2009 Oct;68(10):1596-601. Abstract only