Pain can return temporarily to old injury sites during opioid withdrawal. The prevalence and impact of opioid withdrawal-associated injury site pain (WISP) in various groups is unknown.
Using data from observational cohorts, we estimated the prevalence and correlates of WISP among opioid-using people who inject drugs (PWID). Between June and December 2015, data on WISP and opioid use behaviours were elicited from participants in three ongoing prospective cohort studies in Vancouver, Canada, who were aged 18 years and older and who self-reported at least daily injection of heroin or non-medical presciption opioids.
Among 631 individuals, 276 (43.7 %) had a healed injury (usually pain-free), among whom 112 (40.6 %) experienced WISP, representing 17.7 % of opioid-using PWID interviewed. In a multivariable logistic regression model, WISP was positively associated with having a high school diploma or above (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 2.23, 95 % Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.31-3.84), any heroin use in the last six months (AOR = 2.00, 95 % CI: 1.14-3.57), feeling daily pain that required medication (AOR = 2.06, CI: 1.18-3.63), and negatively associated with older age at first drug use (AOR = 0.96, 95 % CI: 0.93-0.99). Among 112 individuals with WISP, 79 (70.5 %) said that having this pain affected their opioid use behaviour, of whom 57 (72.2 %) used more opioids, 19 (24.1 %) avoided opioid withdrawal, while 3 (3.8 %) no longer used opioids to avoid WISP.
WISP is prevalent among PWID with a previous injury, and may alter opioid use patterns. Improved care strategies for WISP are warrented.
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