A recent study completed by the Minneapolis Minnesota Veterans Affairs (VA) health system concluded there was NO support for opioid use for moderate to severe chronic low back pain and hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA).

The study had 240 patients, followed for 12 months, and randomly placed into the Opioid group (immediate release morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone/acetaminophen) or the Non-opioid group (acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory). There were 3 main findings:

  1. Pain intensity was significantly improved in the Non-opioid group
  2. No significant difference in “pain-related function” comparing the 2 groups
  3. The non-opioid group demonstrated significantly lower adverse effects

So what does this mean? As with any research you must be careful to not overgeneralize this information and apply it to all patients. This study will need to be replicated to confirm findings, but the results are interesting. Given the risk associated with chronic opioid use and limited benefit noted with this study, alternatives to typical chronic pain management will be needed.

Link to PTinMotion News article:


Link to original research abstract: