Opioid pain relievers may not alleviate certain forms of chronic pain any better than non-opioid medications. Researchers set out to assess whether opioid therapy offered more pain relief for patients with moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain compared to non-opioid drugs over 1 year.
The randomized clinical trial included 240 patients who were split into 2 groups: the opioid treatment group and the non-opioid medication group. The study results, published in JAMA, indicated that opioid pain relievers are no better than non-opioid pain relievers for these forms of chronic pain.
Furthermore, the opioid group had significantly more medication-related adverse events over the 12-month period than the non-opioid group. Those events included sleep, changes in mood, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness and problems with balance, headache, fatigue, muscular aches, incontinence, sexual problems and rash or itching.
The researchers concluded that opioid medication should not be used for the treatment of the kinds of chronic and osteoarthritis pain examined in the study.