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A study published online in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that opioids may not be superior to nonopioid medications for moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain. 

The authors conducted a pragmatic, randomized trial with masked outcome assessment of 234 patients. Patients in the opioid cohort were first prescribed immediate-release morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone/acetaminophen. Patients in the nonopioid cohort were first prescribed acetaminophen or an NSAID. In both cohorts, medications were changed, added, or adjusted based on individual patient response. Over 12 months, the authors found that groups did not significantly differ on pain-related function. However, pain intensity was significantly better in the nonopioid group, while adverse medication-related symptoms were significantly more common in the opioid group. Learn more...