Patient factors influencing the choice of opioid versus non-opioid postoperative analgesia following common sports procedures: a prospective survey study

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J Orthop


PURPOSE: Despite established opioid-free protocols for postoperative analgesia after common orthopaedic sports procedures, many patients continue to request opioids postoperatively. The purpose of this study was to elucidate patient factors influencing preferences for opioid versus nonopioid postoperative analgesia.

METHODS: Patients (age >/ = 15) without a history of a documented chronic pain disorder who were scheduled for one of ten sports procedure types from August 2020 to May 2021 were eligible for inclusion. Patients were excluded if undergoing revision surgery, had concomitant injuries, had opioids use >3 months preoperatively, or unable to read English. Recruitment ended after 100 patients enrolled. At the patients' preoperative visit, patients were administered a written survey assessing pain medication preferences. Participants completed the Opioid Risk Tool survey, as well as Visual Analog Scale and Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System surveys.

RESULTS: One hundred patients participated in the study. Forty-two patients preferred opioids versus 58 patients preferring nonopioid postoperative analgesia. Patients preferring opiates were more likely to have had previous surgery (90.2% vs. 69.6%, p = 0.023) with post-operative pain managed with opiates (87.5% vs 55.4%, p = 0.003), higher preoperative Visual Analog Scale score (6±3.5 vs. 3±2, p < 0.001), reported post-operative pain as a reason for opioids preference (88.1% vs 20.0%, p < 0.001), and were less concerned about addiction (4.8% vs. 45.5%, p < 0.001) and side effects (11.9% vs. 52.7%, p < 0.001). For every unit increase in Visual Analog Scale score, the odds of preferring opioid pain control increased 1.41 times.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with a history of prior surgery utilizing opioid pain control, higher Visual Analog Scale scores preoperatively, and concern for inadequately managed postoperative pain were more likely to prefer opioid pain control following common orthopaedic sports procedures. Patients may benefit from increased preoperative education about opioid risks and the role of multimodal pain management regimens.

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