Study Finds Alarmingly High Rate of Opioid Use by Patients with Osteoarthritis

According to the National Institutes of Health, “every day more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids”.1 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that opioid prescription abuse costs the United States approximately $78.5 billion dollars a year.2

In July of 2019, a group of international researchers from Sweden, Denmark and the UK published the results of a 12-month study conducted in the southern part of Sweden. The purpose of the study was to evaluate and quantify opioid use in patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis.

Study Design

Researchers included 751,579 Swedish patients, 35 years of age or older, diagnosed with knee or hip OA between the years 1998 and 2015. Using the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, researchers evaluated how many of these people were prescribed opioid medication between November 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015. 

Study Results

Results showed almost one quarter of patients (23.7%) were prescribed an opioid medication with most of the patients receiving a prescription for a strong opioid (9% weak opioid and 17% strong opioid medication). One in four patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis was given an opioid treatment. The study estimated that at least 12% of all new opioid prescriptions were for patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The most frequently prescribed drugs were codeine, tramadol, oxycodone and morphine.

Opioid Use in the United States

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 11 million people in the U.S. are using Oxycodone recreationally.4 There is an estimated 2 million people in the U.S. with an opioid addiction due to prescription medication and this adds up to an economic estimated cost of $78.5 billion dollars annually.

Stem Cell Therapy for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

At the Stem Cells Transplant Institute, the goal of using stem cell therapy to treat osteoarthritis is to stimulate self-healing and improve the patient’s function and quality of life. Stem cell therapy can reduce the symptoms of OA including; improving range of motion, reducing inflammation, reducing stiffness, and potentially delaying or eliminating the need for surgery, allowing patients to fully engage in the activities they enjoy.

Why patients with osteoarthritis are choosing stem cell therapy at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute:

  • Stem cell transplantation promotes self-healing
  • Stem cell transplantation is less invasive than surgery and may eliminate the need for surgery
  • Stem cell transplantation is a more “natural” treatment without the use of plastic or metal
  • After stem cell transplantation patients recover much more rapidly

Osteoarthritis can be incredibly painful and debilitating, however, too many people in the U.S. are adversely affected by opioid usage due to prescription opioid medications. Patients are looking for alternative treatment options like stem cell therapy.

How does stem cell therapy improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Stem cells support self-healing of the joint cartilage. Osteoarthritis occurs with gradual change to the immune system, cartilage is damaged, bone structure is remodeled, and a chronic inflammation of the synovium develops.

Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to regulate the immune system response, inhibit inflammation, stimulate blood vessel growth, repair tissue, and stimulate self-regeneration of the cartilage. 

At the Stem Cells Transplant Institute, the entire procedure is relatively quick and most patients are up and walking with assistance within 24 hours. 

Patients will experience minimal discomfort, and depending on the job, most can return to work in 1-2 weeks. If the patient performs a desk job, he or she may return after only a few days.

Contact us at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute to learn more about the natural healing benefits of stem cell therapy.

Scientific References:

  1. CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality. CDC WONDER, Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2018.
  2. Florence CS, Zhou C, Luo F, Xu L. The Economic Burden of Prescription Opioid Overdose, Abuse, and Dependence in the United States, 2013. Med Care. 2016;54(10):901-906. doi:10.1097/MLR.0000000000000625.
  3. Thorlund, J.B. et al. (2019) Opioid use in knee or hip osteoarthritis: a region-wide population-based cohort study. Osteoarthritis and
  4. Guy GP, Jr, Zhang K, Bohm MK, et al. Vital Signs: Changes in opioid prescribing in the United States, 2006–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(26) [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  5. Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in drug and opioid-involved overdose deaths—United States, 2010-2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;65(5051):1445–1452. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  6. Florence CS, Zhou C, Luo F, Xu L. The economic burden of prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence in the United States, 2013. Med Care. 2016;54(10):901–906. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]