Recently, researchers led by Monash University have found that inappropriate pain control after surgery causes most of the opioid abuse.
This may be the big cause of the current opioid crisis.
Every year, there are about 320 million people having surgery, and chronic pain occurs in 10% of cases.
Chronic pain after surgery is a growing problem because people are getting old and more surgeries are done. Patients may experience pain after any type of surgery.
In these patients, pain often begins as acute that is difficult to control, and then it evolves into a chronic pain condition that may be resistant to opioids.
The common way to deal with the pain is prescribing more opioids. But this can cause opioid overuse and addiction.
It eventually develops a cycle of increased pain and more opioid use but the pain remains there.
In the study, the team found that in the USA, opioid prescribing for minor surgery has increased and the risk of opioid misuse increases by 44%.
They found that opioids used in surgery could reduce the dose of general anesthetic needed and after surgery the drugs could improve patients’ emotions.
But long-term use of opioids can bring much more health risks than benefits.
The researchers reviewed other evidence and found that from 2004-2012, opioid prescriptions after minor kidney surgeries increased and the average daily dose of opioid increased by 13%.
The same thing happened in hip fracture repair surgery.
The opioid addiction problem is more serious in the U.S. because much more patients in the U.S. were prescribed opioids than that in other countries such as Netherland.
The interesting thing is that these patients have similar levels of satisfaction with pain management.
This means non-opioid pain management strategies can be effective to reduce pain.
The researchers call for a comprehensive method to reduce the risks of opioid overuse.
It is important that doctors reduce opioid prescriptions and increase the use of alternative pain management methods.
In addition, patients should reduce leftover opioids in the home and get to know the risks and benefits of opioids.
The leader of the study is Professor Paul Myles from Monash University.
The study is published in The Lancet.
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