What Is Opioids? Do It Help
- Opioids Don’t Do Much for Chronic Pain, Meta-Analysis Finds
When you don’t feel well, managing chronic pain can be difficult. Emotional stress can make pain even worse. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, chronic pain is defined as lasting anywhere from 3 to 6 months, and it affects some 25 million Americans.
Primarily the use of opioids are for pains management, this ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine — which involves thin needles being inserted into the skin — has gained support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid as a viable treatment in recent years.
The ancient form of alternative medicine is growing in popularity as a viable treatment for a range of conditions. While the scientific evidence of acupuncture’s benefits is still widely debated, research from key Western studies suggests it can be used to manage certain pain conditions — especially back and neck pain, osteoarthritis pain, and headaches.
What Is Opioids
Opioids are strong pain medications. They can help if you have severe short-term (acute) pain — like pain after surgery or for a broken bone, and also for those who usually have frequent headaches. They can also help you manage pain if you have an illness like cancer. If you have cancer, you should speak to a doctor who specializes in pain medicine, such as a physician anesthesiologist, about which opioid or alternative treatment is best for you.
In light of the opioid epidemic, doctors around the country have been making efforts to reduce prescriptions of the drugs. And these efforts may be working; in 2017, the number of people who misused prescription opioid drugs decreased by an estimated 400,000 and the number of people who started using heroin decreased by an estimated 89,000, compared with 2016.
2017 was the deadliest year for opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, was largely responsible for the increase in deaths.
Research Study On Opioids
Recent researchers have noted that opioid drugs come with the risk of developing addiction and overdose, but they also appear to provide little benefit for patients with chronic pain, according to a new study.
The study found that for people with chronic pain that’s not caused by cancer, prescription opioid drugs were tied to only small improvements in pain, physical functioning and sleep quality, compared with a placebo.
Given that prescription opioids are linked with serious risks, including addiction, overdose and death, and that other therapies may provide similar benefits, “our results support that opioids should not be first-line therapy for chronic noncancer pain,” lead study author Jason Busse, an associate professor and researcher at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, said in a statement.
The study was published (Dec.18) in the journal JAMA
In the new study, a meta-analysis, the researchers analyzed information from 96 previous clinical trials of prescription opioids for chronic, noncancer pain; that included more than 26,000 people in total. In each trial, participants were given an opioid drug, a non-opioid treatment or a placebo. Participants were followed for at least one month.
The meta-analysis found that, compared with a placebo, 12 percent more patients treated with opioids experienced pain relief, 8 percent more had improvements in physical functioning and 6 percent more had improvements in sleep quality.
Among this people who made improvement in physical function, opioids were not linked with improvements in social or emotional functioning, the study further found.
In addition, any benefits of opioid drugs waned over time, the results showed. But in real life, doctors often increase the dose of opioid drugs when patients don’t experience pain relief. Given the clear risk of serious harm opioids drugs which include:
- Breathing problems and a slow heart rate, which can be deadly
- Confusion and mental disturbances, like moodiness or outbursts of temper
Opioids should not be continued without clear evidence” that they are working for a given patient, the editorial authors wrote.
The study also analyzed information from nine clinical trials involving more than 1,400 people that specifically compared opioid drugs with NSAIDs. Results showed that people who received opioid drugs reported about the same amount of pain relief as those who received NSAIDS, demonstrating, in other words, that NSAIDs appear to work just as well for pain relief.
The editorial noted that opioids may still be a safe and effective treatment for carefully selected patients if those individuals are properly monitored over time.
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