Association Between Opioid Intake and Disability After Surgical Management of Ankle Fractures

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Abstract

Background:

Opioid-centric pain management strategies have created an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse. This study assesses whether opioid intake is associated with disability, satisfaction with treatment, and pain at the time of suture removal and at 5 to 8 months after suture removal following open reduction and internal fixation of ankle fractures.

Methods:

We enrolled 102 adult patients in the study at the time of suture removal, 59 of whom were available for follow-up at 5 to 8 months. At the time of suture removal, we recorded opioid use; trauma-related factors; and scores on measures of disability, pain, and treatment satisfaction. Patients who were available for follow-up completed the disability, pain, and treatment satisfaction measures at 5 to 8 months and their opioid use at that time was recorded.

Results:

No association was found between opioid intake and disability at the time of suture removal. No association was found between opioid intake and satisfaction with treatment or satisfaction with pain management at the time of suture removal. At 5 to 8 months after suture removal, no variables were associated with opioid intake. The psychologic measures of pain anxiety and catastrophic thinking were the factors most consistently associated with disability, treatment satisfaction, satisfaction with pain management, pain at rest, and pain with activity at both of the time points.

Conclusion:

Patients with ankle fractures may be able to use fewer opioids than are currently prescribed and experience levels of disability and treatment satisfaction comparable with those of patients who take greater amounts of opioids, independent of injury characteristics.

Level of Evidence:

Prognostic level II

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