Most patients who take prescription opioids for chronic pain before lumbar fusion surgery continue taking them long-term after surgery, a new study suggests.
More than 77 percent continued long-term postoperative use, and 14 percent had occasional use, the study authors wrote in the journal PAIN.
“The important message here is that patients go into surgery thinking it will eliminate their need to take pain medication. But for this type of surgery, it’s unlikely that patients will end up stopping opioids,” lead author Dr. Richard Deyo of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland told Reuters Health by phone.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, spinal fusion “(corrects) problems with the small bones of the spine (vertebrae). It is essentially a ‘welding’ process. The basic idea is to fuse together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.”