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Guideline for Prescribing Opioids to Treat Pain in Injured Workers

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, Volume 26, Issue 3, August 2015, Pages 453 - 465

Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of opioids to treat chronic noncancer pain. Opioids are also being prescribed in stronger potencies and larger doses for musculoskeletal injuries. In some cases, the use of opioids for work-related injuries may actually increase the likelihood of disability. Chronic opioid use is associated with increased risk for overdose morbidity and mortality and other nonfatal adverse outcomes. The risk of dependence and addiction is much more common than previously thought. This guideline provides recommendations for prudent opioid prescribing and addresses issues critical to the care and rehabilitation of injured workers.

Keywords: Opioids, Workers’ compensation, Injured workers, Chronic pain, Acute pain, Surgical pain, Addiction.


a Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Olympia, WA, USA

b Department of Environmental Health, Neurology and Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

c Division of Pain Medicine, Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Corresponding author. Occupational Epidemiology and Health Outcomes Program, 130 Nickerson, Suite 212, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.