Your patient who uses opioids regularly for pain relief is headed for a far worse experience after knee arthroplasty than someone who has not used these drugs. Resorting to opioids is very likely to backfire, causing more need for serious pain relief after the surgery, to judge from a new study reported in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
An international group of researchers compared postsurgical outcomes for 49 people who had regularly used opoiod painkillers before surgery with those from a similar group who had not taken opioids. Complication rates were significantly higher in the former group, including 8 revisions and 10 referrals for postoperative pain management (as against none and one, respectively, among the non-opioid users).
Physicians can help patients who have painful degenerative disease of the knee to avoid this fate, the researchers suggest, by using non-opioids more aggressively and by referring more quickly to an orthopedic specialist.
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