Pacira survey finds knee pain hurts physically, socially and mentally

That knee pain is all-encompassing—affecting all aspects of a person’s life—is not surprising. Pacira BioSciences’ "Standing Up to Knee Pain Survey: The Physical, Social, and Mental Impact of Knee OA" did, however, turn up quite a bit of unexpected information.

The survey was conducted by email invitation and online by Wakefield Research and queried 200 orthopedics and nonoperative sports medicine physicians treating patients for chronic knee pain and/or osteoarthritis in the knee along with 500 U.S. adults who have been treated for chronic knee pain and/or osteoarthritis in the knee, between Sept. 8 and Sept. 19, 2022.

The survey found that most (75%) of the responders experienced problems with climbing stairs and exercising. There were also issues with sleep (49%) and work (38%). Almost all (91%) reported having to opt out of social events, and 28% said their day-to-day mental health was impacted by their ongoing pain.

One of the most surprising facts was that nearly 40% of those with knee pain were under the age of 50. One of the problems with that is the average knee replacement only lasts 20 years.

“It's really not your grandmother's knee pain anymore,” Amber Sears, Pacira’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, said.

In addition to the (relative) youth of those suffering from knee pain, the study also found that while all those surveyed are in treatment for their pain, almost none are actually getting relief. The most common methods of treatment cited were over-the-counter medications (71%), ice/elevation (64%) and physical therapy (57%). Half of the patients reported trying injectable steroids or hyaluronic acid gels to manage pain; one-third (36%) said they received eight or more shots.

Despite the risk, 45% of patients reported using opioids or prescription painkillers in an attempt to manage their pain. And that is a huge problem as the mix of opioids and mental health problems are immense.

“100% of those patients were actively seeking treatment, so they're getting shots in their knee, probably it's not uncommon, but 97% of them are still in pain. So what they're seeking is not working and that I think is the crux for us to say there are new innovations,” Sears said.

That’s where, for Pacira, its Iovera device comes in. The FDA-approved treatment uses cryoanalgesia, an intensely focused cold therapy applied to a specific nerve blocking the pain signal. The results are immediate and have been shown to last three months or longer.

Of course the company plans to use the information from the survey for marketing and public relations purposes, but Sears said that it’s also about patient empowerment via the knowledge that if you’re in pain, you are not alone and that there are options out there for those who are still suffering.

Pacira acquired pain-relief device developer Myoscience back in March 2019 in a deal worth up to $220 million. The Iovera device slots easily into Pacira’s non-opioid painkiller portfolio that also includes Zilretta, an extended-release treatment for osteoarthritis knee pain which the company received from its purchase of Flexion Therapeutics in October of 2021.