Joint replacement surgeries, such as knee, hip, and shoulder replacements, are often done to reduce the pain caused by arthritis. However, in the days following surgery, some patients’ pain is just as bad or even worse than their original arthritic pain. This post-surgical pain is temporary, but it can get in the way of healing and rehabilitation if it is left untreated.

    This article discusses:

    • How effective pain management helps patients recover more quickly
    • Different methods of pain management
    • How patients can help ensure their pain is well managed
    • Hospital policies regarding pain management

    The Benefits of Effective Pain Management

    Relieving pain is an essential part of any joint replacement surgical plan. The benefits of pain relief include:

    Increased patient comfort. Every joint replacement patient has some degree of post-operative pain, and effectively managing that pain can significantly affect patient comfort.

    Earlier rehabilitation. A patient whose pain is under control and is more likely to get out of bed and perform rehabilitation exercises. When done under the guidance and supervision of a surgeon and physical therapist, post-surgical exercise can help reduce the development of scar tissue, increase range of motion, and increase the likelihood a successful recovery.

    Learn more about Total Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery
    and Total Knee Replacement Surgery Recovery


    Decreased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Patients who have undergone a joint replacement are at greater risk for developing a blood clot in a deep vein. When a patient’s pain is under control, he or she can move about and perform rehabilitation exercises, which improve blood flow and therefore decrease the risk of DVT.

    Earlier hospital discharge. The sooner a patient’s pain is under control, the sooner he or she can be discharged from the hospital.

    Decreased infection risk. Because of the threat of hospital-borne infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), an early discharge may reduce the chances of infection.

    Learn more about joint replacement complications:


      Increased patient satisfaction. Patients who are able to be self-sufficient and return to their normal routine on schedule or ahead of schedule tend to be more satisfied with their joint replacement surgery.

      Read about the approaches to pain management and what questions patients can ask their doctors about pain management.

      Dr. James Bried is an orthopedic surgeon with more than 30 years of experience in clinical practice. He specializes in sports medicine and adult reconstructive surgery. Dr. Bried also serves on the clinical faculty at University of California San Diego and on the editorial board for the Journal of Arthroplasty.

      Dr. Brad Cohen is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and joint replacement surgery. He practices in San Diego, CA, and has more than 20 years of clinical experience. Throughout his career, Dr. Cohen has helped train dozens of fellows and postgraduate surgeons in complex surgical procedures involving the knee, hip, and shoulder.

      Dr. Thomas Knutson is an orthopedic surgeon with more than 30 years of experience treating hip, knee, and shoulder injuries. He practices with Arch Health Medical Group in Escondido, CA, where he specializes in arthritis and joint replacement surgery.