New Persistent Opioid Use Following Common Forefoot Procedures for the Treatment of Hallux Valgus

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2019 Apr 17;101(8):722-729. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.18.00793.


Background: Orthopaedic surgeons are the fourth highest on the list of top prescribers of opioid analgesics by specialty and have a direct impact on opioid-related morbidity in the United States. Operative bunion correction is one of the most commonly performed elective foot surgical procedures in this country. We sought to determine the rate of new persistent opioid use following exposure to opioids after surgical treatment of hallux valgus (bunionectomy) and to identify associated risk factors.

Methods: A nationwide U.S. insurance claims database, Truven Health MarketScan, was used to identify opioid-naïve patients who underwent surgical treatment of hallux valgus employing 3 common procedures from January 2010 to June 2015. The rate of new persistent opioid use (i.e., fulfillment of an opioid prescription between 91 and 180 days after the surgical procedure) among patients who filled a perioperative opioid prescription was then calculated. A logistic regression model was used to examine the relationship between new persistent use and risk factors, including surgical procedure, patient demographic characteristics, and patient comorbidities.

Results: A total of 36,562 patients underwent surgical treatment of hallux valgus and filled a perioperative opioid prescription. The rate of new persistent opioid use among all patients who filled a perioperative opioid prescription was 6.2%. Patients who underwent treatment with a first metatarsal-cuneiform arthrodesis were more likely to have new persistent opioid use compared with the distal metatarsal osteotomy control group (adjusted odds ratio, 1.19 [95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.39]; p = 0.021). Factors independently associated with new persistent opioid use included prescribing patterns, coexisting mental health diagnoses, and certain pain disorders.

Conclusions: New persistent opioid use following surgical treatment of hallux valgus affects a substantial number of patients. Understanding factors associated with persistent opioid use can help clinicians to identify and counsel at-risk patients and to mitigate this public health crisis.

Level of evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Arthrodesis / adverse effects*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Hallux Valgus / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Metatarsal Bones / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteotomy / adverse effects*
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tarsal Bones / surgery
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid