Six in 10 patients with moderate-to-severe hip or knee arthritis use opioids prior to total joint surgery, and these patients tended to have poorer outcomes that those who do not use the powerful painkillers. They also may be more likely to develop a dependence or addiction to opioids after surgery, according to a study published in Healio Rheumatology.
Researcher Seoyoung C. Kim, M.D., ScD, MSCE, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, analyzed Medicare data to determine preoperative opioid use patterns among nearly a half million patients 65 years or older who underwent total hip or knee replacement surgery between 2010 and 2014. They found that the opioids most used by these patients were hydrocodone, tramadol or oxycodone. About 8 percent of continuous users of opioids used them almost every day during the year prior to surgery.
The next phase of the research will examine postoperative opioid use and whether patients who used opioids prior to surgery were more likely to use the drugs afterwards, Seoyoung said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), every day more than 115 people in the United States die from opioid overdose. Oftentimes, opioid dependence and addiction begins after a patient has been prescribed opioids for pain management.
About 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder, according to NIDA. Proof that the country’s devastating opioid epidemic is a public health emergency.
National Institute on Drug Abuse