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Are opioids no better than other painkillers? Here's why

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By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
3/7/2018 (9 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Study suggests opioids are no better than other medications after several weeks to months.

Americans have been conditioned to fear and avoid pain at all costs. As a result, we now suffer from an opioid crisis which has tens of millions of Americans using these powerful painkillers to manage chronic pain. These painkillers bring risk of addiction and overdose. 

Opioid painkillers are dangerous, and researchers are seeking ways we can reduce dependence on them.

Opioid painkillers are dangerous, and researchers are seeking ways we can reduce dependence on them.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
3/7/2018 (9 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: opioids, painkillers, drugs, medication, pain, management


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Researchers have published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that suggests opioids may be no more effective for treating chronic pain over the long term than over-the-counter medications. 

The study tracked 240 veterans with chronic back pain or osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Each participant has high levels of chronic pain. Half were given opioid medications and the other were given over-the-counter medications or other common, non-opioid prescription painkillers. Patients were told what they were being given.


In the short term, the patients reported that they thought the opioids were more effective than the non-opioid medications. However, in just nine months the situation was reversed with those patients who used alternative medications besides opioids reporting less pain than those on the opioids. 

The study did not explore why this difference developed, but speculation suggests opioid tolerance could be the reason. 

If the study's findings are supported by peer review and follow-up research, then it could demonstrate that opioids should only be prescribed for the short-term, and should not be used to manage chronic pain over the long term. 

Instead, other treatments should be considered for long-term pain management. 

One of the problems in American society is the fear of pain that has been inculcated into
most people. Pain is a natural part of life and aging. The best we can do is manage pain as we age. Two effective pain management techniques are exercise and losing weight, since a lack of exercise and being overweight often exacerbate painful conditions. 

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