People living with chronic lower back pain are more likely to use illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine compared to those without back pain, says a study.
In addition, chronic low back pain patients with a history of illicit drug use are more likely to have a current prescription for pain-relieving drugs, said one of the researchers Anna Shmagel from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
The researchers analysed survey responses from more than 5000 US adults (aged 20 to 69 years) from a nationally representative health study.
About 13 per cent of the respondents met the study definition of chronic low back pain present for 3 months or longer. The confidential survey also asked participants about their use of illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
The results, published in the journal Spine, suggested that back pain was linked to higher rates of illicit drug use.
About 49 per cent of adults with chronic low back pain said they had used illicit drugs compared with 43 per cent of those without the condition.
Rates of current illicit drug use (within the past 30 days) were also higher in the chronic low back pain group, that is, 14 per cent versus 9 per cent.
Participants with chronic low back pain were more than twice as likely to report methamphetamine and heroin use, the findings showed.
The results also suggested a link between illicit drugs and prescription opioids among patients with chronic low back pain.
Those who had ever used illicit drugs were more likely to have an active prescription for opioid analgesics, that is, 2.5 per cent versus 15 per cent.
Prescription opioids are widely used by patients with chronic low back pain, raising concerns about addiction, misuse and accidental overdose.
Inputs from IANS