Use of opioids early in treatment found to make pain worse later in spinal cord injury patients

Researchers from the McGovern Medical School of the University of Texas Health Science Center presented the results of their study on opioid use. They found that prescribing opioids to patients recovering from acute traumatic spinal cord injuries may worsen their pain in the immediate future.

  • The team looked at the data of 180 patients who had been admitted to the hospital between 2008 and 2011 due to traumatic spinal cord injuries.
  • Complete initial motor exam results and opioid prescription information were available for 85 of the reviewed patients.
  • Of the 85, 27 patients were able to complete telephone surveys one year after their injuries.
  • Those who had taken the follow-up telephone surveys had higher total opioid doses within 24 hours of sustaining their injuries.
  • Taking opioids within a day or a week of traumatic spinal cord injury was linked to increased pain just a little over a year later.
  • Each mg of opioid medication elevated the patients’ pain scores by a certain amount, according to the researchers.
  • As such, opioid usage should be scrutinized further to fully gauge their effects during and well after the acute period.

In spite of the results, the researchers stated that they couldn’t conclusively declare a direct connection between opioids and worsened pain. Thus, they plan to carry out further prospective studies to assess and establish this association.

Article Reference:

“PAIN RELIEF NOW, MORE PAIN LATER?” Newswise = Smart News Connection, 12 Feb. 2018,,-more-pain-later?

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