Impact of Nerve Surgery on Opioid and Medication Use in Patients with Chronic Nerve Injuries

John M. Felder, Ivica Ducic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Limited information is available regarding the ability of nerve surgery to affect medication use patterns in patients with chronic pain or neuropathy due to nerve injury. Methods: A retrospective survey was distributed to all operative patients (N = 767) from a single nerve surgeon's practice between 2014 and 2020. Data collected included demographics, specifics of the injury and symptoms, medication and opioid use before surgery, and medication/opioid use following surgery. Results: Out of the 767 patients, 209 (27.2%) completed the survey. Average age was 48.8 (SD = 19.1) years; 68.9% female and 31.1% male. More than 50% of the patients took at least three medications. More than 50% of the patients after surgery did not need medication or had significant reduction; 54.1% of the patients took opioid medication daily, and 97.3% of patients reported that narcotic medications did not resolve their problem. Patients rated the effectiveness (Likert scale 0-10) of opioid medications in general at an average 3.25 ± 2.03. Of patients who took opioids regularly, 61.6% reported a negative effect of these medications on daily or professional activities. After surgery, more than 50% of the patients did not need opioids or had a significant reduction in opioid usage. Conclusions: Untreated nerve injuries lead to ongoing chronic pain, explaining why medications are mostly ineffective in eliminating symptoms. In this study, nerve surgery targeting the anatomical source of symptoms effectively reduced both opioid and nonopioid medication use.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3789
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

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