Although the study used data from patients in the North East of Scotland, latest NHS England figures also show long waiting times for the surgery.
As of July 2021, 681,190 people were waiting for trauma and orthopaedic surgery, which includes hip and knee, up 30 per cent from Jan 2020.
The authors warn “prolonged” waiting time for surgery should be avoided during the Covid recovery to prevent “more widespread opioid use”.
Long-term opioid use before surgery has also been associated with increased risk of complications related to the operation, poorer outcomes, and ongoing opioid dependence.
Luke Farrow, a clinical research fellow at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Applied Health Sciences, who led the research, said alternative ways of managing severe arthritis pain must be found “urgently” for those waiting for this kind of surgery.