Opioids for Arthritis: Effective Pain Relief or Not Worth the Risk?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids-including prescription pain relivers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl- is a serious national crisis that effects public health as well as social and economic welfare.”

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that arthritis, a common cause of chronic pain caused by inflammation of the joints, affects 54.4 million Americans. Treatment for arthritis can vary depending on its severity, and can involve medications, physical therapy, or even surgery.

Prescription opioids are a class of drugs that are prescribed to reduce moderate to severe pain and has been widely prescribed to relieve the pain caused by arthritis. However, the issue of addiction and misuse of opioids leading to so many deaths, have forced the medical experts to reevaluate the risk of prescribing opioids for patients suffering from chronic pain including arthritis. The CDC issued the following statement regarding its review of guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain: “Although opioids can reduce pain during short-term use, the clinical evidence review found insufficient evidence to determine whether pain relief is sustained and whether function or quality of life improves with long-term opioid therapy. While benefits for pain relief, function, and quality of life with long-term opioid use for chronic pain are uncertain, risks associated with long-term opioid use are clearer and significant.”

If you are suffering from arthritis, discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider. To schedule an appointment at any of our convenient Primary Medical Care Center community clinics, you may visit our website at www.primarymed.com, or call (305)751-1500 for our Miami-Dade clinic, or (954)289-0000 for our Broward clinic.

Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opiods/opiod-overdose-crisis