Research Article: Neuropathic-like symptoms and the association with joint-specific function and quality of life in patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis

Date Published: June 14, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Tim Blikman, Wietske Rienstra, Jos. J. A. M. van Raay, Baukje Dijkstra, Sjoerd K. Bulstra, Martin Stevens, Inge van den Akker-Scheek, Masahiko Sumitani.


There is an association between osteoarthritis-related pain severity and function, yet clear evidence about the sole influence of neuropathic-like symptoms on joint function and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is lacking. Previous studies among knee OA patients show an association between neuropathic-like symptoms, lower functional status and lower quality of life, however analyses were unadjusted or had limited adjustment for influential covariates like pain intensity. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the influence of neuropathic-like symptoms—adjusted for multiple influential covariates—on joint-specific function and HRQoL in hip and knee OA patients.

In this observational study 255 patients (117 with hip OA and 138 with knee OA) completed the modified painDETECT questionnaire (mPDQ) to identify subjects with neuropathic-like symptoms (mPDQ score>12, possible neuropathic pain [NP] phenotype). The WOMAC and the RAND-36 were used to asses respectively function and HRQoL. Results were adjusted stepwise for age, sex and BMI (Model 1); back disorder, painful body regions, comorbidities and previous surgery (Model 2); and pain intensity and analgesic usage (Model 3).

A possible NP phenotype was experienced by 37% of hip and 46% of knee OA patients. Final model 3 analysis revealed that hip OA patients with neuropathic-like symptoms scored significantly lower on pain-related aspects of HRQoL (ΔRAND-36 bodily pain: 6.8 points, p = 0.047) compared to patients with the unlikely NP phenotype. In knee OA patients, a possible NP phenotype was associated with diminished joint function (ΔWOMAC domains ranging 7.1 to 10.5 points, p<0.05) and more deficits on the physical functional aspect of HRQoL (ΔRAND-36 physical functioning: 6.8 points, p = 0.016). Neuropathic-like symptoms deteriorate the subjective rating of pain-related quality of life in hip OA patients and significantly influence function in knee OA patients.

Partial Text

Hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) is among the leading causes of disability around the world. This degenerative joint disease has a major impact on quality of life, especially in terms of pain and functional disability [1]. Around 1.3 million people in the Netherlands suffer from OA [2]. Worldwide estimates for symptomatic OA are around 10% of men and 20% of women aged over 60 [3].

The aim of this study was to determine the sole influence of neuropathic-like symptoms on joint-specific function and HRQoL, in both hip and knee OA patients, while adjusting for multiple known influential covariates. We found that the presence of neuropathic-like symptoms does not interfere with a hip OA patients’ joint function, but does deteriorate the subjective rating of pain-related quality of life. By contrast, knee OA patients who experience neuropathic-like symptoms encounter clinically relevant diminished joint-related function [39] and more deficits on the physical functional aspect of health-related quality of life. As a substantial proportion of patients experienced neuropathic-like symptoms and none reported using analgesics to treat neuropathic-like symptoms specifically, OA patients could benefit from pain phenotype screening and a more customized treatment for their underlying pain mechanism (e.g. centrally-acting analgesics like antidepressants). Hence results of this study have implications for a broad field of OA caregivers, ranging from family physicians to orthopedic surgeons.




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