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People with rheumatoid arthritis should not expect too much from total knee therapy

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be warned not to expect dramatic results from total knee replacement, suggests a study which found that the benefits of the procedure are greater in patients with osteoarthritis.

Researchers in the United States compared the effects of total knee arthroplasty in 834 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 315 patients with osteoarthritis. Participants underwent surgery between 1999 and 2012.

Total knee replacement had more benefits for patients with osteoarthritis

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Patients in both disease groups experienced significant improvements in pain, function and quality of life following total knee arthroplasty. However, a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was associated with lower improvements in knee pain. Reduced benefits were also reported by patients with lower income.

Total knee replacement can serve as a ‘time machine’ that allows patients to return to a less disabled lifestyle, before the arthritic process catches up, conclude the researchers. Howevever, senior author Kaleb Michaud, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said: ‘It is an important and effective treatment, but patients with rheumatoid arthritis should not expect the same, often dramatic results experienced by their osteoarthritis counterparts.’

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