New study says opioids aren’t effective back pain treatments

While many already know the risks of using opioids to treat chronic pain, specifically due to how easily patients form a dependence on them. However, new research has also uncovered their ineffectiveness. The analysis, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, took data from 20 randomized controlled trials that tested and compared different narcotics, as most of them were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

Pooled together, the researchers of the new study had over 7,000 participants to work with, and the details of opioids' efficacy over placebos or other types of opioids. What the researchers first noticed was how little these medications did to combat pain, and how high the drop out rates in the studies were. In some cases, they were reaching up to 75 percent because they caused adverse side effects or didn't work at all.

To truly measure how well opioids could treat pain, the researchers created a 100-point scale. They found that the opioids did not reach the determined level of effectiveness, which was at 20 points.

Andrew J. McLachlan, a professor of pharmacy at the University of Sydney and the study's lead author, explained to the New York Times that back pain is better treated by other methods, such as exercise and professional help.

"All these trials point in the same direction, and this gives us the information to make decisions about clinical care," McLachlan said. "The first question is: will these medicines help, and will they be safe?"

Recently, the state of Oregon approved chiropractic care as one of the Medicaid-covered alternatives to opioids to treat chronic back pain. The Oregon Health Authority decided to include this and other types of treatment to their Back Policy Changes Fact Sheet after reviewing evidence of their effectiveness.

If you're suffering from back pain, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.