It is insanity that despite the lack of evidence for its efficacy and the overwhelming evidence of the potential harms of opioids, still 40% of patients with low back or neck pain who visit their GP are prescribed some kind of opioids. The mind-blowing fact is that it is 2023 and still 70% of patients with low back pain who visit a hospital ER are prescribed opioids.1
“Opioids should not be recommended for acute non-specific low back pain or neck pain given that we found no significant difference in pain severity compared with placebo.” –Jones et al 2023
This 2023 triple blind RCT published in The Lancet involved patients with acute neck or low back pain who visited either their primary care physician or the ER in Sydney, Australia. They compared the benefits and risks of prescribing 20 mg oxycodone to a placebo tablet for up to 6 weeks.
Contrary to what is commonly expected and believed by both MDs and patients, taking opioids did not result in better pain relief compared to the placebo. In addition, after 6 weeks, taking opioids did not result in better outcomes in functional recovery, quality of life, or work absenteeism.
“Our findings show opioids should not be recommended for acute low back pain or neck pain.” –Jones et al 2023
What is surprising to me is that after 6 weeks, those prescribed opioids actually experienced greater pain than those in the placebo group. What is shocking is that compared to the placebo group, those prescribed opioids were more likely to still have pain a year later.
Since I posted this study on TikTok as a video message, I have had over 700 hateful messages throwing insults at me for disseminating this supposedly “false” information. Some are demanding for my licence to be taken away. I honestly did not mean to offend anyone who is opioids dependent. I am just a messenger!