Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is the final treatment option for patients with advanced knee osteoarthritis (OA). Unfortunately, TKA surgery is accompanied by acute postoperative pain that is more severe than arthroplasty performed in other joints. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms specific to post-TKA pain necessitates an animal model that replicates clinical TKA procedures, induces acute postoperative pain, and leads to complete functional recovery. Here, we present a new preclinical TKA model in rats and report on functional and behavioral outcomes indicative of pain, analgesic efficacy, serum cytokine levels, and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) transcriptomes during the acute postoperative period. Following TKA, rats exhibited marked deficits in weight bearing that persisted for 28 days. Home cage locomotion, rearing, and gait were similarly impacted and recovered by day 14. Cytokine levels were elevated on postoperative days one and/or two. Treatment with morphine, ketorolac, or their combination improved weight bearing while gabapentin lacked efficacy. When TKA was performed in rats with OA, similar functional deficits and comparable recovery time courses were observed. Analysis of DRG transcriptomes revealed upregulation of transcripts linked to multiple molecular pathways including inflammation, MAPK signaling, and cytokine signaling and production. In summary, we developed a clinically relevant rat TKA model characterized by resolution of pain and functional recovery within five weeks and with pain-associated behavioral deficits that are partially alleviated by clinically administered analgesics, mirroring the postoperative experience of TKA patients.