Opioids not always best choice for chronic pain
Chronic pain can be debilitating. So, when the pain in your back, hip or knee won't go away, you want relief.
Don't be surprised if your doctor doesn't start you on potentially-addictive opioids
Based on a study recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a prescription for a non-narcotic pain reliever may be the best way to go.
The study of 240 patients at Veterans Affairs Clinics who had moderate to severe pain. It compared those who received opioids with those who got non-opioid pain relievers, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin).
"After 12 months what they found was that there was no difference in pain-related function or quality of life between the two groups,” said Dr. John Swarztberg, head of the editorial board at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. “In fact, the pain intensity was reduced slightly more in the non-opioid group than in the opioid group."
Doctors often think people with chronic, severe pain, need the strongest pain reliever possible – and that's opioids. This study suggests that’s a bad assumption.
“What we learned from this is that's probably not true, that in most instances, at least from this study, non-opioid pain relievers work better in the long-run that the opioids,” Swartzberg said.