The opioid epidemic: impact on orthopaedic surgery

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2015 May;23(5):267-71. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00163.


The past few decades have seen an alarming rise in opioid use in the United States, and the negative consequences from diversion of opioids for nontherapeutic use are dramatically increasing. A significant number of orthopaedic patients are at risk for repercussions from both therapeutic and nontherapeutic opioid use. Orthopaedic surgeons are the third highest prescribers of opioid prescriptions among physicians in the United States. Thus, it is important for orthopaedic surgeons to understand the detrimental effects of opioid abuse on individuals and society and to recognize objective measures to identify patients at risk for nontherapeutic opioid use. These measures include elements of the patient history, recognition of aberrant behaviors, prescription drug monitoring programs, and opioid risk-assessment tools.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Epidemics*
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Orthopedics / trends*
  • Patient Selection
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / prevention & control*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / trends*
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid