Consuming opioids and anti-depressants may increase the risk of developing bone fractures among people who are already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, says a new study. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints and organs of the body.
Chronic inflammation and pain in arthritis patients further leads to several diseases like cardiovascular, mental and gastrointestinal disorders. People take multiple medications in such cases that sometimes influences the risk of osteoporotic fractures or a disease caused due to reduced bone density, the researchers noted.
“Even at younger ages, rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a two-fold increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures due to chronic inflammation and glucocorticoid use. More importantly, osteoporotic fractures significantly contribute to the disability, health-related costs and mortality with substantially higher complication in rheumatoid arthritis patients,” said Gulsen Ozen, researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre.
The researchers evaluated 11,049 rheumatoid arthritis patients, aged 40 and above, with no signs of osteoporotic fractures prior to the tests. After a median follow-up time of 5.7 years, the study found 863 patients affected with osteoporotic fractures. The patients who developed fractures were significantly older and had higher disease risk and bone fracture risk at the baseline than those patients who did not experience fractures.
The results presented at the ACR/ARHP annual meeting 2017 in San Diego mentioned that the osteoporotic fracture risk increased within 30 days when the patients were given opioids. The associated medications also led to falls in certain cases.
“Knowing the risks associated with the use of these medications can guide rheumatologists and other physicians in choosing the most appropriate management strategies in patients, particularly the ones who have a high fracture or fall risk,” Ozen added.