Pain Severity Leading Predictor of Prolonged Opioid Use After Surgery

Newswise — CHICAGO, Sept. 5, 2017 – New research reported in The Journal of Pain shows the strongest predictive factors for prolonged opioid use after a traumatic musculoskeletal injury and surgery are pain severity and a poor sense of control over pain.  The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society,

Scientists from the University of Toronto, York University and other Canadian centers hypothesized that pain severity measured in the hospital within two weeks of a musculoskeletal injury could predict use of prescription opioids four months after discharge.  They also explored weather psychological distress would predict opioid use as much or more than pain severity.

Previous research has shown that people who sustain traumatic injuries are at higher risk than the general population for using and abusing opioids.  Several studies have identified risk factors for persistent opioid use, such as a history of drug or alcohol abuse and taking medications for depression and anxiety. However, the extent that acute post-surgical pain and chronic pain influence persistent opioid use is not clear.

Results of the study, which employed secondary data analysis, showed that 35 percent of 122 patients reported using a prescription opioid for pain relief four months following a traumatic musculoskeletal injury requiring surgery.  These patients had significantly greater pain severity and pain interference scores than patients who were not using opioids. 

The study results support the hypothesis that initial in-hospital pain severity would predict use of prescription opioids four months after surgery.   The data strongly suggest that pain severity and poor sense of pain control, not psychological distress, are the main factors associated with prolonged opioid use following musculoskeletal trauma and surgery. 

About the American Pain Society

Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.  APS is the professional home for investigators involved in all aspects of pain research including basic, translational, clinical and health services research to obtain the support and inspiration they need to flourish professionally.  APS strongly advocates expansion of high quality pain research to help advance science to achieve effective and responsible pain relief.  For more information on APS, visit   






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