Opioids don’t guarantee improvement in physical function

New York: People suffering from neuropathic pain — complex, chronic pain that usually is accompanied by tissue injury — report no improvement in physical functioning after taking opioids that tackle pain, researchers said.

“Even though opioid medications can be a powerful pain killer, it does not necessarily mean improved function will follow,” said lead author Geoff Bostick, associate professor at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Patients who were not prescribed any opioids had statistically lower disability and higher physical functioning scores, the findings showed.

Opioids can help people with severe pain be more comfortable, but if they are not facilitating improved physical function, the impact of these medications on quality of life should be questioned, the researchers said in the study published in the journal Pain Medicine.

Stressing the importance of physical function, the researchers suggested that patients who are experiencing chronic pain and are medically cleared for physical activity should find a way to promote movement, even if it is painful.

The study looked at 789 patients across Canada who provided baseline measures of self-reported function, and again at six and 12 months after treatment.

These patients suffered with neuropathic pain from nerve injuries such as diabetic neuropathy and pinched nerves.