Opioids not effective in treating back pain, research finds

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A new study published in The Lancet has found that opioids are no more effective than placebos in treating lower back and neck pain. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, found that people who took opioids for these conditions were no more likely to report pain relief than those who took a placebo.

The study involved over 1,500 people with chronic lower back or neck pain. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either opioids or a placebo for 12 weeks. The researchers found that there was no significant difference in pain relief between the two groups.

The study’s lead author, Christine Lin, said that the findings “should prompt a re-evaluation of the use of opioids for lower back and neck pain.” She added that “doctors should not prescribe opioids for these conditions, and instead focus on patient-centred approaches that could include advice to stay active, and simple pain relievers.”

The study’s findings are in line with previous research that has found that opioids are not effective in treating chronic pain. In 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids, which stated that opioids should only be used as a last resort for chronic pain.

The CDC’s guidelines were issued in response to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. In 2017, there were over 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, and the majority of those deaths involved opioids.

The study’s findings are a reminder that opioids are not a safe or effective treatment for chronic pain. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, talk to your doctor about non-opioid pain relief options.

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