Nearly 1 in 3 patients with lupus use prescription opioids for pain


Credit: Michigan Medicine

Although there is little evidence that opioids effectively reduce pain from rheumatic diseases, a new study finds nearly one in three patients with lupus uses prescription opioids, often lasting longer than a year.

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, often leaves those affected with inflammation and pain throughout the body.

“Rheumatic diseases, such as lupus, are a leading cause of chronic pain,” says Emily Somers, Ph.D., Sc.M.>, an associate professor of rheumatology, environmental health sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Michigan Medicine.

Somers is the lead author on a new study, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, that examined prescription opioid use among adult patients with lupus in southeast Michigan.

“With the current opioid epidemic and evolving guidance related to opioid prescribing, we wanted to determine current levels of prescription opioid use in lupus,” says Somers, a member of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation>.

Opioid use among patients with lupus

The research team examined data from the Michigan Lupus Epidemiology & Surveillance (MILES) Program>, a cohort of more than 650 patients with and without lupus from southeast Michigan.

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