SAGE Journals

Opioid Use After Common Sports Medicine Procedures: A Systematic Review

Posted on 2020-04-10 - 12:07

The prescription of opioids after elective surgical procedures has been a contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic in North America.


To examine the opioid prescribing practices and rates of opioid consumption among patients undergoing common sports medicine procedures.

Data Sources:

A systematic review of the electronic databases EMBASE, MEDLINE, and PubMed was performed from database inception to December 2018.

Study Selection:

Two investigators independently identified all studies reporting on postoperative opioid prescribing practices and consumption after arthroscopic shoulder, knee, or hip surgery. A total of 119 studies were reviewed, with 8 meeting eligibility criteria.

Study Design:

Systematic review.

Level of Evidence:

Level 4.

Data Extraction:

The quantity of opioids prescribed and used were converted to milligram morphine equivalents (MMEs) for standardized reporting. The quality of each eligible study was evaluated using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies.


A total of 8 studies including 816 patients with a mean age of 43.8 years were eligible for inclusion. A mean of 610, 197, and 613 MMEs were prescribed to patients after arthroscopic procedures of the shoulder, knee, and hip, respectively. At final follow-up, 31%, 34%, and 64% of the prescribed opioids provided after shoulder, knee, and hip arthroscopy, respectively, still remained. The majority of patients (64%) were unaware of the appropriate disposal methods for surplus medication. Patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair had the highest opioid consumption (471 MMEs), with 1 in 4 patients receiving a refill.


Opioids are being overprescribed for arthroscopic procedures of the shoulder, knee, and hip, with more than one-third of prescribed opioids remaining postoperatively. The majority of patients are unaware of the appropriate disposal techniques for surplus opioids. Appropriate risk stratification tools and evidence-based recommendations regarding pain management strategies after arthroscopic procedures are needed to help curb the growing opioid crisis.


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Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach


Ujash Sheth
Mitesh Mehta
Fernando Huyke
Michael A. Terry
Vehniah K. Tjong
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