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Opioids Don't Ease Disability in Neuropathic Pain

Medications aren't useful in restoring motion, researchers say

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MONDAY, Feb. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Taking prescription opioids doesn't improve movement or reduce disability for patients with neuropathic pain, according to a study published recently in Pain Medicine.

Geoff Bostick, Ph.D., an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues evaluated data for 789 patients with neuropathic pain. Some were prescribed opioids while others didn't receive the drugs.

At six- and 12-month follow-ups, patients who took the opioids didn't show greater improvements in movement and disability than those who did not take the drugs, the investigators found.

"Pain is very complex, and people experience pain at very different levels," Bostick said in a university new release. "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."

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Pfizer, which contributed funding to the study.

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