No Amelioration in Physical Function with Opioid Therapeutics in Patients with Neuropathic Pain

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No Amelioration in Physical Function with Opioid Therapeutics in Patients with Neuropathic Pain

As per a new University of Alberta study, opioids such as morphine, codeine and Tylenol 3 can be effective for treating pain, but finds that patients with neuropathic pain taking opioids report no improvements in physical functioning compared to those who were not prescribed opioids.

According to Geoff Bostick, associate professor of physical therapy at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and lead author of the study published in Pain Medicine,"We studied patients with neuropathic pain from nerve injuries such as diabetic neuropathy and pinched nerves, and the ones who weren't prescribed any opioids had statistically lower disability and higher physical functioning scores".

In this study, across Canada, researchers checked out 789 patients and put up various baseline measures of self-reported function, then again at 6 and 12 months after treatment. Consequently, this research exhibited that physical functioning and disability did not ameliorate in patients with neuropathic pain who were prescribed opioids as compared to those who were not prescribed to take opioids. "Even though opioid medications can be a powerful pain killer, it does not necessarily mean improved function will follow--pain is not the only factor in determining function," describes Bostick. "It can be difficult helping people move when they have pain, but as a physiotherapist I know the importance of physical function and we have to help find a way to promote movement, even if it is painful."

Bostick, a pain expert, comprehends the important role of opioids in pain treatment. "Pain is very complex, and people experience pain at very different levels. Opioids can help people with severe pain be more comfortable, but if they are not also facilitating improved function, the impact of these medications on quality of life should be questioned." While improving function despite pain is difficult, there is a way forward. Bostick postulates that people who are experiencing chronic pain and are medically cleared for physical activity, use a graded approach. "If you want to move better, it requires careful measurement of your tolerance to activity.

"Instead of say, walking until you reach your pain limit, I tell patients to walk until they are at 50 per cent of their tolerance--walk and stop before the pain gets too bad. Each week, walking time is gradually increased. Over time, this tolerance will slowly increase and so will physical function."

University of Alberta
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