Opioid painkillers are designed for serious pain, such as after a major surgery.
But a Penn Medicine team found they're prescribed surprisingly often for minor injuries, such as if you sprain your ankle and go to the emergency room.
Their nationwide survey found that 1 in 4 ankle sprain patients got an opioid prescription. However, it varied dramatically from state to state.
In North Dakota, for example, just under 3 percent of patients got opioids.
Yet in Arkansas, 40 percent got prescriptions for them.
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, less than 15 percent got prescriptions.
The study leaders say emergency room doctors need more specific guidelines on when to use opioids, or when to use non-opioid alternatives.
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