The variety of sufferers utilizing opioids for ache aid whereas ready for hip and knee replacements has elevated by 40% in the course of the pandemic, a research has discovered.
The influence of the virus on the NHS was blamed for an increase in waiting times for surgeries that compelled sufferers to attend a mean of 90 additional days for procedures, in response to the College of Aberdeen.
The onset of COVID-19 led to elective orthopaedic procedures being extensively postponed as hospitals prioritised acute care.
Opioids reminiscent of morphine and tramadol are steadily used as a final resort to handle ache brought on by osteoarthritis – however researchers stated proof more and more exhibits they’ve restricted advantages and may even be detrimental in the long run, particularly for older adults.
When used earlier than surgical procedure for a very long time, the research’s authors stated sufferers are extra prone to problems associated to the operation, poorer outcomes and ongoing opioid dependence.
The analysis examined knowledge from 452 NHS sufferers from the northeast of Scotland who had been on the ready listing for hip and knee substitute surgical procedure, evaluating the quantity who had been prescribed opioids with those that had surgical procedure earlier than the pandemic.
Luke Farrow, scientific analysis fellow on the College of Aberdeen’s Institute of Utilized Well being Sciences, stated different methods of managing extreme arthritis ache must be discovered “urgently” for these affected by the NHS backlog.
He referred to as on healthcare suppliers to “keep away from using opioid treatment if in any respect attainable as a result of recognized lack of impact on this setting and potential for hurt”.
“Our work offers proof of potential for an rising opioid downside related to the affect of COVID-19 on elective orthopaedic providers,” he stated.
Researchers stated sufferers who want hip and knee replacements, one of the vital widespread elective procedures, have been disproportionally affected by the lengthy ready lists.
“COVID-19 has had a major detrimental impact on entry to hip and knee surgical procedure, and work by others has urged this has been related to worsening ache and high quality of life for sufferers,” Mr Farrow stated.
Mike Hint, chief govt of the Ahead Belief, a charity that helps individuals with habit, stated it’s “well-known that prescription painkillers, significantly opiates, could be a path to habit”, including: “We help requires viable different ache administration.”
“The US has seen a horrific opiate habit epidemic and we must always collectively do all we are able to to keep away from the identical factor taking place right here,” he advised Sky Information.
The variety of prescriptions for opioids has elevated by about 60% within the final decade, in response to the Division of Well being, and coincides with a rising variety of individuals turning into depending on the medicine.
About half of drug-related deaths in England and Wales in 2020 concerned using an opiate.