How effective are opioids for chronic low back pain?
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Q: How effective are opioids for chronic low back pain? Evidence-based answer: Short-term (<4 months) treatment with opioids provides modest relief of chronic low back pain, but only minimal improvement in function compared with placebo (strength of recommendation [SOR]: B, systematic review of lower-quality randomized controlled trials [RCTs]). Tramadol isn’t superior to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief (SOR: A, consistent results from RCTs). In addition, oxycodone with titrated morphine isn’t better than naproxen for relieving pain or improving function (SOR: C, a low-quality RCT). Although no long-term RCTs have been done, cohort studies have shown that 6 to 12 months of opioid use is associated with a small decrease in pain and either very minimal improvement in, or worsening of, disability (SOR: B, prospective cohort trials).
Journal of Family Practice, 64(9) 2015: 584-585.