In 2019, 22.1% of US adults with chronic pain reported using a prescription opioid in the previous 3 months, according to a study published in the National Health Statistics Reports. Researchers reported prevalence estimates of prescription opioid use among adults with chronic pain using data from the redesigned 2019 National Health Interview Survey. Among participants, 22.1% reported using a prescription opioid in the previous 3 months. There was variation in prescription opioid use by age group, sex, educational attainment, employment status, poverty status, and health insurance coverage. There was an increase in prescription opioid use with age, followed by a decline among adults aged 65 and older, and prevalence was highest for those aged 45-64 (25.9%). Use of a prescription opioid for chronic pain was more common among women (24.3%) than men (19.4%), adults who were unemployed (27.8%) compared with employed (15.2%), and those with a family income below 100% of the federal poverty level (27.0%) compared with those with a family income of 200% or more of the federal poverty level (19.4%). “Prescription opioid use in the context of chronic pain management is associated with increased risk of misuse, addiction, morbidity, and mortality,” the authors wrote.

Widespread Pain Tied to Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke

Widespread pain is associated with the subsequent risk for incident dementia, Alzheimer’s disease dementia, and stroke, according to a study published in Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine. Investigators conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from the Framingham Heart Study to examine these associations. They evaluated pain status at a single time point from 1990-1994 and conducted dementia follow-up across a median of 10 years among those who were free from dementia at baseline. Among participants, 14.1% met the criteria for widespread pain, whereas 85.9% did not. In total, 128 of the 188 cases of incident all-cause dementia were Alzheimer’s disease dementia. During the followup period, 139 patients had a stroke. Widespread pain was associated with HRs of 1.43 for all-cause dementia, 1.47 for Alzheimer’s disease dementia, and 1.29 for stroke after adjusting for multiple variables, including age and sex. In the subgroup of individuals older than 65, comparable results were seen. “Clinicians should be made aware of these associations and seek earlier diagnosis to provide timely therapies for better outcomes,” the authors wrote