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Chronic Opioid Use for Pain Impairs Functional Rehab

Patients who use high opioid doses for work injuries use more medical services, less likely to return to work

MONDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with musculoskeletal injuries are more likely to benefit from a functional restoration program if they are not chronic users of opioids for pain, researchers report in the April issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Cindy L. Kidner, Ph.D., of PRIDE Research Foundation in Dallas, and colleagues studied 1,226 patients with disabling musculoskeletal disorders who participated in a functional restoration program including an exercise program, counseling, group therapy, stress-management and vocational reintegration. The cohort was divided into two groups: 630 patients who had not used opioids for pain and 596 patients who had.

The investigators found high opioid use was associated with lower rates of return to work, lower work retention and higher health care utilization. The subgroup with the highest opioid use was 11.6 times more likely to be on Social Security Disability Income/Supplemental Security Income than the group that used no opioids, the researchers report.

"Physicians involved in the treatment of chronic disabling occupational musculoskeletal disorders should be aware of problems associated with permitting long-term opioid use in patients with a disabling occupational disorder," the authors write.

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