Strong painkillers can cause hip fracture in Alzheimer’s patients

Investigating whether an incident opioid use is associated with an increased risk of hip fractures among community-dwelling persons.


A new study by the University of Eastern Finland shows that people using strong painkillers, opioids have double the risk of hip fracture contrasted with non-opioid users. This happens due to increased opioid strength.

Strong opioids, for example, buprenorphine, were associated with a double risk and strong opioids, like oxycodone and fentanyl, were associated with almost a three-fold risk, compared with non-use.

Opioids impact on the central nervous system and for this reason, opioid use may cause attentional impairment or drowsiness. They are also known for increasing the risk of falls that may lead to a hip fracture in older people.

For this study, 23,100 community-dwelling persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland during 2010-2011 were included. Scientists Compared incident opioid users (N = 4750) with opioid nonusers (N = 4750).

Data on drug use and hip fractures were retrieved from nationwide registers. Incident opioid users were identified with a 1-year washout. Cox proportional hazard models compared the risk of hip fracture between opioid use and nonuse and were weighted with inverse probability of treatment (IPT), based on a propensity score.

The results suggest an increase in the risk of hip fracture by increasing opioid strength; weak opioids IPT-weighted HR 1.75 (0.91-3.35), buprenorphine IPT-weighted HR 2.10 (1.41-3.13), and strong opioids IPT-weighted HR 2.89 (1.32-6.32).

The study is published in the journal PAIN.

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