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Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers Who Are Up To One In Three “at risk of long-term opioid use”



Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers Who Are Up To One In Three at risk of long-term opioid use

A recent study reveals that up to one in three individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may be at risk of long-term opioid usage.

Scholars cautioned that individuals with rheumatoid and musculoskeletal disorders (RMD) are “vulnerable” to prolonged usage of the potent analgesics.

Experts cautioned that prolonged drug usage can lead to addiction and that opioid use is associated with additional risks.

The latest study, which was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, looked at data from over 800,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia who were registered at general practitioners’ offices throughout the United Kingdom.

Data on opioid use among these patients from 2006 to 2021 was analyzed.

One in seven patients end up using opioids for the rest of their lives, according to study conducted by professors at the University of Manchester.

According to the scientists, this could be as high as one in three patients with fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis.

“Our study shows that a considerable proportion of patients with RMDs starting opioids for the first time, transition to long-term opioid use,” said study principle investigator Dr Meghna Jani from the University of Manchester.

It is important to exercise caution when prescribing opioid medications because prolonged use of these medications has been linked to negative health consequences.

Patients with fibromyalgia, who have extensive, persistent pain for which there is no disease-modifying therapy, exhibit a relatively high long-term usage rate.

“This is also more common than we initially thought, in rheumatoid arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis.”

“People with arthritis experiencing relentless and excruciating chronic pain are often desperate for pain relief, and it is sometimes appropriate for doctors to prescribe opioids in the short term,” stated Deborah Alsina, chief executive of the charity Versus Arthritis, in response to the study.

“People ought to have access to opioids if they are beneficial to them.

But some people have bad experiences with opioids, and long-term usage increases the risk of dependence. Some people have discovered that opioids have no effect—good or bad—on their quality of life.

“The decision to take any medicine should always be shared between a person and their doctor. This research can be used by doctors to inform people with arthritis of the possible benefits and risks of opioids and whether it is the right medicine for them.”


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