Objectives To investigate if pain, physical function and the quality of life changed among adults with osteoarthritis while on the waiting list for hip or knee joint replacement.
Methods A longitudinal study of patients listed for primary hip or knee joint replacement. Participants were interviewed at baseline (n = 105) and followed up at 3 (n = 84), 6 (n = 47) and 9 months (n = 24), or until their joint replacement. Measurement tools used were a visual analogue scale (VAS), Western Ontario and McMaster’s Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index and the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-36).
Results Baseline data indicated high levels of pain as measured by VAS [mean 7.0 (SD 2.2)] and WOMAC pain [mean 11.2 (SD 3.5)]. At baseline, the mean physical function measured by WOMAC was 40.3 (SD 12.1). At the 3-month follow-up, there was significant deterioration in VAS pain scores (0.6; 95% CI mean difference 0.3, 1.0); WOMAC pain scores (1.2; 95% CI mean difference 0.7, 1.8) and WOMAC physical function scores (4.8; 95% CI mean difference 2.8, 6.7) compared with baseline.
Conclusion The often long wait for joint replacement surgery and deterioration in pain and physical function has highlighted the need for active management by health professionals while patients are on the waiting list.