Many people believe opioids are the “best” pain relievers, offering the most relief in the quickest way. Integrated Pain Consultants offers a variety of options for pain management, prioritizing a conservative approach. There are many avenues for pain relief and pain management, including alternative therapies. It appears that news outlets are catching on to this fact, with PBS reporting in March 2018 that “opioids may not relieve pain better than non-opioid medications.”
PBS reported on a year-long trial “Strategies for Prescribing Analgesics Comparative Effectiveness” (otherwise known as SPACE). The study included 240 patients at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System Chronic Disease Outcomes Research Center that were split into two groups. One group was prescribed common opioid medications such as oxycodone and morphine. The others were prescribed non-opioid medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other acetaminophen drugs (these are all common pain relievers and over the counter medications).
All patients initially reported moderate to severe pain in the hips, back, and/or knees for at least six months. The majority were “older, white men.” Led by Dr. Erin Krebs and her colleagues, after one year the researchers found no evidence that opioids were better pain relievers than safer, over the counter alternatives. According to Dr. Krebs, “Results do not support initiation of opioid therapy for moderate to severe back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain.”
Patients were asked to rate their pain on a scale of 0 – 10 throughout the years. The opioid group averaged a score of 4.0, and the non-opioid group averaged 3.5. The patients were also asked to rate their “pain decrease” post-treatment of “at least 30 percent.” In the opioid group, 59 percent said their pain decreased with opioid treatment while 61 percent in the non-opioid group said their pain decreased.
Overall, those in the non-opioid group reported less pain and fewer side-effects. However, both reported the same rates of “misuse.” It is important to note that misusing non-opioids is significantly less risky than misusing opioids. Of course, Veterans Affairs patients cannot and do not represent all patients. Dr. Krebs says her findings are not indicative of all patients who would benefit from pain management. Still, it’s a promising study that encourages alternative and conservative treatments. Are you interested in pain management options? Call Integrated Pain Consultants at 480-626-2552 today. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.