Landmark long-term study shows opioids no good for back pain

Fairfax Media has reported today on new research which found that opioids are no better than ibuprofen or paracetamol at reducing lower back pain over a 12-month period, yet these opioids came with the threat of dependence and addiction, which has been blamed for an increase in accidental overdoses.

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The research involved a long-term trial by the Minneapolis Veterans Health Care System and studied 240 veterans taking opioids for chronic back and knee pain compared with those treated by non-opioids. Fairfax reports that the results have been presented at a major medical conference in the US, but have not yet been published.

In November 2016, the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) released their white paper, A Better Approach to Pain Management in Canada. The CCA’s white paper looks beyond the immediate critical challenges of substance abuse in Canada to review available evidence on measures to help reduce the pressure to prescribe opioids for back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions.

The CCA’s white paper assertsthat ‘the evidence is clear that manual therapies, including chiropractic, should be first-line options for the management of musculoskeletal conditions within the inter-professional healthcare team. Such management offers a safe, effective, non-invasive, coordinated, and cost-effective alternative to opioids’.

Click here for more information about the Canadian Chiropractic Association’s Chiropractic Response to Opioid Crisis.

Announcing the national roll-out of real time prescription monitoring for prescription-only medicines in late July, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, noted that the misuse of prescription medicine is a growing trend in Australia.

The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia is in the preliminary stages of developing a similar framework to the Canadian white paper for Australia.