Surgery Increases Risk of Chronic Opioid Use


Chronic use of opioid-based painkillers has become an epidemic as well as a pressing issue in healthcare. Although opioids allow immediate pain reduction, medical providers are generally opposed to chronic use, which offers little efficacy but is associated with many risks, such as dependency. While opioids still remain to be the standard treatment to relieve pain after surgeries, recently, researchers at Stanford University have shown evidence that posts-surgical opioid use can increase the risks of long-term dependency. In this retrospective study, among 18,011,137 patients who started using opioids due to reasons other than post-surgical pain-relieving, 0.136% became chronically dependent. On the other hand, among 641,941 patients, who first began opioid use post-surgery, up to 1.41% developed dependency.

There results suggest that post-surgical use of opioids is much more powerful in developing long-term dependency, compared with first-time users who started for other reasons. The study also indicates that alternative pain-relieving methods are needed to improve the long-term health outcomes.

Ultimately, surgery of any sort carries risk, including post-surgical complications and prolonged recovery. Therefore, non-surgical procedures are desirable when it comes to bone and joint degeneration as well as chronic pain. At the Orthohealing Center, we provide various minimally invasive methods when warranted to address specific conditions. Various precisely guided injections including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, and bone marrow stem cell (BMSC) therapy, are promising natural based alternatives. A comprehensive evaluation with your physician is important to understand what treatments may be optimal including possible risks and benefits.

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