Health Care

Opioids don't beat other medications for chronic pain

Opioids don't beat other medications for chronic pain”

The study might question the benefits of using opioids when painkillers may be able to do the job on their own.

Doctors who treat patients with hip or knee arthritis, among other chronic pain ailments, may want to cut back or eliminate prescriptions for long-term use of possibly addictive opiates, according to a study led by researchers with IN connections. That's the gold standard design for research.

The 240 volunteers for the study had to suffer from chronic pain for more than six months.

There was "no advantage [to prescribing opioids] that outweighed all that risk of accidental death or addiction", said Dr. Erin Krebs.

The findings run counter to years of medical practice in the USA, where more so than in other countries, opioids have been prescribed to millions of patients for chronic pain throughout the years - even though data on their long-term effectiveness was lacking.

"People got just as good pain relief if you used non-opiate pain medicines and somewhat fewer side effects with chronic pain", Dr. Kurt Kroenke said. The opioids also were slightly inferior at controlling pain intensity, and patients on them reported many more side effects, according to the results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found emergency rooms saw a big jump in overdoses from opioids a year ago. The biggest jumps were in the Midwest and in cities, but increases occurred nationwide. Another study on Monday reported that opioid overdoses among children had also doubled between 2012 and 2015.

For years, opioid medications have been a popular method among doctors and patients for treating chronic pain but as cases of opioid addiction and overdose deaths increase, researchers are looking into the effectiveness of these drugs. "Opioids have this reputation as powerful painkillers, and I don't think it is well deserved, at least for chronic pain". They were mostly older, white males.

Krebs said the strongest evidence from other studies shows that physical therapy, exercise or rehabilitation therapy works best for chronic pain. Follow-up ended in 2016. "It will likely change the approach to managing long-term back, hip and knee pain".

Krebs spoke with host Mike Mulcahy about this one of a kind study.

Half of the study participants were given opioids such as morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone/acetaminophen. They switched to higher doses if needed or to long-acting opioids or fentanyl patches. The others were given acetaminophen followed by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

After a year of treatment, opioids weren't any better at improving pain related to daily functioning, such as ability to sleep and work, the study found. Both groups, though, suffered from the same rates of misuse.

When rating their pain on a scale from 0 to 10, patients in the opioid group reported an average score of 4.0, while patients in the non-opioid group reported an average of 3.5.

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