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Postoperative residual knee pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a significant factor that contributes to patient dissatisfaction. Patients with preoperative central sensitization (CS) may be more susceptible to unexplained chronic pain after TKA, and duloxetine has been reported to be effective in post-TKA pain control in patients with CS. However, there remains limited evidence to support this off-label use in routine clinical practice. Hence, we designed this randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blind clinical trial to evaluate the effects of preoperative screening and targeted duloxetine treatment of CS on postoperative residual pain compared with the care-as-usual control group. This randomized controlled trial includes patients with knee osteoarthritis on a waiting list for primary unilateral TKA. Patients with preoperative CS will be randomly allocated to the perioperative duloxetine treatment group (duloxetine group) or the care-as-usual control group (placebo group). Patients in the duloxetine group will receive a half-dose of preemptive duloxetine (30 mg/day) for a week before surgery and a full-dose of duloxetine (60 mg/day) for six weeks after surgery. The primary outcome is the intensity of residual pain at six months after TKA, including the visual analogue scale, 11-point numeric rating scale, the sensory dimension of the brief pain inventory, and the pain subscale of the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. The secondary outcome measures will include the pain and function related outcomes. All of the patients will be followed up at one, three, and six months after surgery. All adverse events will be recorded and immediately reported to the primary investigator and ethics committee to decide if the patient needs to drop out from the trial. This clinical trial will convey the latest evidence of the efficacy and safety of the application of duloxetine in postoperative pain control in CS patients who are scheduled for TKA. The study results will be disseminated at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry ( ) registration number: ChiCTR2000031674 . Registered 07 April 2020.


Shicheng Wang, Wensheng Wang, Long Shao, Jing Ling. Efficacy and safety of duloxetine for postoperative pain after total knee arthroplasty in centrally sensitized patients: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2021 Mar 30;22(1):316

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PMID: 33785016

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