Using an Arthritis Rating Scale to Justify Knee Replacement Surgery

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The Rheumatoid and Arthritis Outcome Score (RAOS)1 is used for patients suffering with arthritis in the lower body. It helps them assess changes in symptoms that may occur with various kinds of treatment. The RAOS helps measure factors, such as daily pain, function and quality of life, which may help determine whether or not a patient receives knee replacement surgery. Knee pain assessment along with the Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS)2 is also used in this determination. KOOS relies on patients’ opinions about their knee pain and associated symptoms. Both the RAOS and the KOOS can help patients and physicians make appropriate determinations and treatment decisions about arthritic knee pain and current limitations. Using an arthritis rating scale to justify knee replacement helps patients and their health care providers decide between avoiding unnecessary surgery and determining that total knee replacement surgery is needed.


Pain is the key issue for patients who first develop arthritis in the knee. It is most noticeable with any type of weight-bearing exercise, but eventually pain may become constant and resistant to typical treatment. Severe symptoms may develop, such as swelling, stiffness and locking, according to the Australian Knee Clinic3. Ultimately, disabling symptoms can occur, such as night pain.

Rating Scales

If you have knee arthritis, first try using a simple scale for rating knee pain – mild, moderate or severe. You can also rate your knee pain on a scale of 1 to 10, suggests the Australian Knee Clinic3. A basic rating scale can help you and your health care provider determine how knee pain is affecting your daily activities. Evaluate walking, stair climbing and exercise abilities when rating your pain. Also consider your activity goals and current level of self-care. Some people experience knee pain so severe that if affects their social life and mental health. KOOS and RAOS are administered to pinpoint specifics when it comes to knee pain and arthritis and can help physicians to develop appropriate treatment plans.

Scoring Forms

Filling out the forms for knee pain and arthritis rating scales is hassle-free. KOOS and RAOS scoring methods are peer reviewed and have been validated by professional health care providers, as well as expert patient panels. The forms are patient-administered, self-explanatory and take only about 10 minutes to complete. They are often filled out by patients in a waiting room or at home and then mailed in.

Knee Replacement

When a patient suffers from debilitating knee pain due to acute arthritis, often times total knee replacement is finally recommended. Quality of life is the ultimate deciding factor. Losing sleep or developing depression with knee arthritis and pain are indications that more advanced treatment is needed. Discuss the situation with your health care provider and start with the KOOS rating scale, as well as the RAOS arthritis rating scale, to justify knee replacement.

Consider your options carefully, though, and first try all possible methods for relieving knee pain before opting for surgery. According to the Australian Knee Clinic, “Patients who do not have significant loss of joint space tend to be less satisfied with their clinical result after total knee arthroplasty.”3


  1. A User’s Guide to Rheumatoid and Arthritis Outcome Score RAOS
  2. A User’s Guide to Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score KOOS
  3. Australian Knee Clinic: Total Knee Replacement