Does opioid pain medication use affect the outcome of patients with lumbar disc herniation?

Kristen Radcliff*, Mitchell Freedman, Alan Hilibrand, Roman Isaac, Jon D. Lurie, Wenyan Zhao, Alex Vaccaro, Todd Albert, James Neil Weinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    Study Design. Subgroup analysis of prospective, randomized cohort. Objective. To review the results of patients who received opioid pain medications during treatment compared with that of patients who did not receive opioid medications. Summary of Background Data. The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT) is a prospective, multicenter study of surgical treatment versus nonoperative treatment for lumbar intervertebral disc herniation. Methods. The study population includes patients enrolled in SPORT for treatment of intervertebral disc herniation in combined randomized and observational cohorts. Patients who received opioid medications at baseline (opioid) were compared with those who did not (nonopioid). Results. There were 520 patients in the nonopioid group and 542 patients in the opioid group. Among the opioid medication group, there were signifi cantly ( P < 0.001) worse baseline scores in primary and secondary outcome measures. There was an increased percentage of patients in the opioid medication group with the perception of worsening symptoms and neurological defi cit ( P < 0.001). A higher percentage of the opioid group patients received surgery ( P < 0.001). At 4 years of follow-up, there were no signifi cant differences in primary or secondary outcome measures or treatment effect of surgery between opioid and nonopioid medication group patients. Opioid medications were associated with increased crossover to surgical treatment ( P = 0.005) and decreased surgical avoidance ( P = 0.01). The incidence of opioid use at 4 years was 16% among patients who were using opioids at baseline and 5% among patients who were not using opioids at baseline. Conclusion. Patients who were treated with opioids had signifi cantly worse baseline pain and quality of life. At fi nal followup, there was no long-term difference in outcome associated with opioid pain medication use. Opioid medications were not associated with surgical avoidance. The majority of patients who use opioids during the study did not continue usage at 4 years.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)E849-E860
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Jun 15 2013


    • Disc herniation
    • Lumbar
    • Opioid
    • Outcomes

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Clinical Neurology
    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


    Dive into the research topics of 'Does opioid pain medication use affect the outcome of patients with lumbar disc herniation?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this