From: Roman Bystrianyk on 30 Jan 2010 08:36
Older adults who take powerful prescription painkillers known as
opioids face an increased risk of bone fractures, especially at
moderately high medication doses, a new study finds.
Opioids are powerful narcotic pain medications that include morphine,
oxycodone (Oxycontin and other brands) and hydrocodone (Vicodin and
The drugs work well against severe pain in the short term, but their
longer-term effectiveness for chronic pain is less clear. Moreover,
with longer use comes the risk of addiction, in addition to side
effects such as nausea, constipation, dizziness and sedation.
That dizziness and sedation can also set opioid users up for falls,
which, in older people especially, may result in serious fractures.
The new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine,
confirms the risk of fracture associated with opioids, and also shows
that moderately higher drug doses further the hazard.
Researchers found that among more than 2,300 older adults with chronic
pain, the risk of suffering a bone fracture was higher when patients
were using an opioid for a prolonged period than when they were
Author: Amy Norton