According to a Michigan Medicine research, patients with two pediatric-onset neurodevelopmental illnesses are prescribed opioids at a significantly greater incidence than persons without these problems. This discovery raises concerns regarding addiction, overdose, and mental health issues.
The researchers looked at opioid prescriptions from private insurance claims for over 22,000 individuals with cerebral palsy or spina bifida and over 930,000 patients without the disorders. They discovered that patients with cerebral palsy and spina bifida were administered oral morphine equivalents, which are generated from drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, at up to five times the incidence of individuals without such diseases.
According to the findings published in Heliyon, the greater prescription trends were found in those with no pain, isolated discomfort, and chronic pain.
“Our findings are of great concern, given the known links between persistent opioid use and psychiatric conditions, as well as overdose mortality,” said lead author Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Chronic pain is the most often reported symptom among people with cerebral palsy, a neurological illness caused by brain abnormalities, and spina bifida, a neural tube defect that can cause spinal cord and nerve damage. Pain in these people can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscular stiffness, arthritis, and invasive surgical treatments.
Previous research found that more than 40% of all Medicaid recipients with disabilities used opioid pain medications, with more than 20% reporting chronic opioid usage. The study’s authors question whether long-term opiate usage is acceptable for the management of non-cancer-related chronic pain.
Future research should look into the effectiveness of non-opioid pain medications and alternative pain management strategies for adults with cerebral palsy and spina bifida, says co-author Edward Hurvitz, M.D., chair of the University of Michigan Health Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.
“By matching medications to underlying pain causes, improving clinical pain screening procedures and providing efficient referral systems for appropriate pain management may help minimise the burden of opioid addiction and overdose in these groups,” Hurvitz said.