Opioid medicines are used by a large percentage of patients who have advanced knee, hip, or spine osteoarthritis to manage their chronic pain.
Younger patients and women seem to be at highest risk for using opioid pain medicines for their osteoarthritis.
Besides the limitations on mobility that osteoarthritis imposes, pain presents the greatest challenge because prescriptive patterns have come under scrutiny in an age when opioid pain medicine abuse and dependence are all too common, researchers suggested.
With the present opioid epidemic at crisis levels, Y. Raja Rampersaud and colleagues in Toronto pointed out that some evidence suggests opioids might not even help patients with osteoarthritis when compared with other treatments.
The authors conducted a study of patients before orthopedic surgery on their knees, hips, or spine to determine rates of prescription opioid use and any association between opioid use and various sociodemographic and health status characteristics. They presented their findings at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego.
The authors looked at 1204 presurgical osteoarthritis patients prospectively with preoperative and postoperative opioid use being determined via questionnaire. The examined variables included gender, age, educational level, body mass index, medical comorbidities, pain levels, and depressive symptoms.
• Opioids were used “sometimes” by 15% of patients.
• Opioids were used daily by another 15% of patients.
• The highest rate of opioid use, at 40%, was found in patients who had spine osteoarthritis.
• Subjects who had knee and hip osteoarthritis reported opioid use at rates of 28% and 30%, respectively.
American College of Rheumatology Press Release. “Spine Osteoarthritis Patients and Those Under 65 More Likely to Use Opioids to Manage Pain.” November 4, 2017.