The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 8, 1662 - 1666

Tramadol in Knee Osteoarthritis: Does Preoperative Use Affect Patient-Reported Outcomes After Total Knee Arthroplasty?

Driesman, Adam et al.


The 2013 American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons evidence-based guidelines recommend against the use of preoperative narcotics in the management of symptomatic osteoarthritic knees; however, the guidelines strongly recommend tramadol in this patient population. To our knowledge, no study to date has evaluated outcomes in patients who use tramadol exclusively as compared with narcotics naive patients.


This is a retrospective study of prospectively collected data for patients who underwent unilateral primary total knee arthroplasty between January 2017 and March 2018. PRO scores were obtained using a novel electronic patient rehabilitation application, which pushed PRO surveys via email and mobile devices within 1 month prior to surgery and 3 months postoperatively.


One hundred and thirty-six patients were opiate naïve, while 63 had obtained narcotics before the index operation. Of those, 21 patients received tramadol. The average preoperative Knee Disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores were 50.4, 49.95, and 48.01 for the naïve, tramadol, and narcotic populations, respectively, ( P = .60). The tramadol cohort had the least gain in 3 months postoperative Knee Disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores, improving on average 12.5 points in comparison to the 19.1 and 20.1 improvements seen in the narcotic and naïve cohorts, respectively ( P = .09). This difference was statistically significant when comparing the naïve and tramadol populations alone in post hoc analysis ( P = .016).


When comparing patients who took tramadol preoperatively to patients who were opiate naïve, patients that used tramadol trended toward significantly less improvement in functional outcomes in the short-term postoperative period.

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