There is still a large unmet need for novel osteoarthritis (OA) treatments that could provide clinically important effects on long-term pain relief (≥12 months). We examined the relation of bariatric surgery along with weight loss to analgesic prescription and all-cause mortality among individuals with OA.
We conducted a cohort study among individuals with OA using The Health Improvement Network. We compared the rate of no analgesic prescription ≥12 consecutive months and the risk of all-cause mortality using inverse probability weighting Cox-proportional hazard models and the difference in number of analgesic prescriptions (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and paracetamol) in the 50, 75 and 90 percentiles using quantile regression model between bariatric and non-bariatric cohorts.
Included were 588,494 individuals (694 had bariatric surgery). Compared with non-bariatric group, the rate of no analgesic prescription ≥12 consecutive months was higher (HR=1.23, 95% CI: 1.08-1.38) in bariatric surgery group, and the number of analgesic prescriptions was lower in the 75 (44 versus 58) and 90 (74 versus 106) percentiles during a mean follow-up of 4.3 years. All-cause mortality in bariatric surgery group was lower than comparison group (HR=0.46, 95% CI: 0.41-0.51).
This study presents the first evidence that bariatric surgery was associated with decreased long-term analgesic prescription and decreased all-cause mortality among individuals with OA. However, our findings may be overestimated owing to intractable confounding by indication for bariatric surgery; thus, future studies (e.g., clinical trials) are warranted.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.