We examined the prevalence of narcotic use before and after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and its association with post-TKA pain relief and satisfaction. Data on 6364 primary, unilateral TKA patients in a national registry were analyzed. Before TKA, 24% of patients were prescribed one form of narcotic. Of these, 14% reported continued narcotic use at 12 months after TKA, whereas the majority discontinued use. Only 3% of patients who did not use narcotics before TKA had a narcotics prescription at 12 months. Patients who used narcotics before TKA were more likely to have a narcotic prescription at 12 months post-TKA, reported greater pain at 12 months, and were more likely to be dissatisfied with TKA outcome. These findings have implications for patient pre-TKA counseling.