Patients With Polyneuropathy Receive Long-Term Opioid Therapy, No Clear Benefit

CHICAGO -- May 23, 2017 -- Polyneuropathy is associated with an increased likelihood of long-term opioid therapy, but therapy does not appear to improve functional status, according to a study published online by JAMA Neurology.

Polyneuropathy is a common painful condition, especially among older patients, which can result in functional impairment.

Christopher J. Klein, MD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues examined the association of long-term opioid therapy with functional status, adverse outcomes, and death among patients with polyneuropathy.

The population-based study included data from 1,993 patients with polyneuropathy who were receiving opioid therapy and a group of control patients for comparison.

Polyneuropathy was associated with an increased likelihood of long-term opioid therapy of 90 days or more.

Those patients receiving long-term opioid therapy also were more likely to be diagnosed with depression, opioid dependence or opioid overdose.

Self-reported functional status measures were either unimproved or poorer among those patients receiving long-term opioid therapy.

Limitations of the study include that it was based on prescription data without confirmation that prescriptions were filled and taken as intended.

“Polyneuropathy increased the likelihood of long-term opioid therapy,” the authors wrote. “Chronic pain itself cannot be ruled out as a source of worsened functional status among patients receiving long-term opioid therapy.”

“However, long-term opioid therapy status but rather was associated with a higher risk of subsequent opioid dependency and overdose,” the authors concluded.

SOURCE: JAMA Neurology
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