People with a sprained ankle may get too many opioids

In a new study, researchers found that although ankle sprain injuries are common, patients with the condition may get too many prescribed opioids.

The research was conducted by a team from Michigan Medicine.

In the study, the team examined the rates of opioids prescribed to patients who experienced an ankle sprain injury.

They analyzed data from a health insurance claims database.

The results showed that of the nearly 592,000 patients diagnosed with an ankle sprain during the selected nine-year period, 11.9% filled an opioid prescription within seven days of diagnosis.

When the team selected out opioid-naïve individuals, or individuals who had not had an opioid prescription during the year before the sprain, they found 8.4% of these individuals were still filling a prescription for an opioid three months after the original diagnosis.

Moreover, the researchers found that opioids have never been included in treatment recommendations for ankle sprains.

Several evidence-based recommendations for the treatment of ankle sprains exist and include treatments such as cryotherapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, functional support, and exercise.

But no evidence-based treatment guidelines for ankle sprains include prescribing opioids.

The researches found that most opioid prescriptions were provided by physicians and advanced practice providers in emergency medicine and primary care settings.

Previous research had found that approximately 25% of patients with ankle sprains in hospital emergency departments received an opioid prescription.

The team suggests that doctors need to understand ankle sprain treatment guidelines and the fact that the initial opioid prescription seems to be linked to new persistent opioid use.

The lead author of the study is  James R. Holmes, M.D., an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Michigan Medicine.

The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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