Back Pain, Depression and Opioids: Research Uncovers Rx Pattern

Researchers find these patients are also more likely to get higher doses of opioids
Researchers find these patients are also more likely to get higher doses of opioids

HealthDay News — Patients with low back pain who are depressed are more likely to be prescribed opioids, and to be prescribed higher doses, according to a study published online June 20 in PAIN Reports.

The analysis of nationwide data from 2004 to 2009 found that patients with back pain who screened positive for depression were more than twice as likely to be prescribed an opioid. Over a year's time, they also got more than twice the typical dose, the researchers found.

"There is strong evidence that depressed patients are at greater risk for misuse and overdose of opioids," senior author John Markman, MD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center's Translational Pain Research Program in New York, said in a university news release. 

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The researchers said learning more about these patterns can improve understanding of the U.S. opioid epidemic. It will also help evaluate the success of efforts to control prescription opioid abuse, they added.

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