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From Worker’s Compensation to Opioid Addiction?

A new study released by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s department of orthopedics in Baltimore finds that injured workers frequently turn to opioid painkillers for relief, and nearly 30 percent of them may still be taking them three months after their injury, which increases the odds of addiction.

Nathan O’Hara, the study’s lead author noted: “The increased likelihood of persistent opioid use among some strain and sprain injuries is potentially concerning, particularly given the limited evidence to support opioid therapy for these injuries.”

The most common injuries for which people who claim workers’ compensation received opioids include chronic joint pain, strains and sprains, crushes, and permanent disability.  Some of the most common opioids are Vicodin and OxyContin.

Doctors share a concern that opioids are being prescribed for non-acute pain when other therapies could be considered for many injured workers.  Opioids are also often ineffective for long-term pain management. Physical therapy and non-opioid painkillers are much better suited to treating pain that lasts for years or is permanent.