"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study raises doubts in regards to the effectiveness of opioids for back pain

June 29, 2023 – Researchers in Australia say their latest study shows that opioids don’t have any effect on lower back or neck pain.

“Opioids should not be recommended for acute, nonspecific low back pain or neck pain, as we found no significant difference in pain intensity compared to placebo. This finding requires a change in the frequent use of opioids in these conditions,” they wrote in The Lancet.

The study involved greater than 340 patients and was “quite a surprise to us,” said one in every of the study's authors, Andrew McLachlan, dean of pharmacy on the Sydney Pharmacy School. “We thought there would be some pain relief, but overall there was no difference.”

The study recruited patients from general practice and emergency departments in Sydney who had been affected by pain for lower than 12 weeks. They were randomly assigned to the opioid or placebo group. The study lasted six years.

“After six weeks, there was no significant difference in pain scores between the two groups,” NPR reported. “The same was true after 12 weeks.”

The researchers also said that individuals who had received opioids were at greater risk of abusing those substances a yr later.

According to NPR, this research focused on “common back pain” lasting up to a few months. In comparison, previous research examined using opioids to alleviate chronic back pain.

“It will challenge many of the key guidelines we have for treating back pain,” says Mark Bicket, MD, an anesthesiologist on the University of Michigan and director of research on opioids and pain.said NPR.