Studies Say Opioids Don’t Provide Relief from Chronic Pain, But Electrotherapy Does

Studies Say Opioids Don’t Provide Relief from Chronic Pain, But Electrotherapy Does

Studies Say Opioids Don’t Provide Relief from Chronic Pain, But Electrotherapy Does

There is no long-term benefit for giving chronic pain sufferers opioids to treat their pain, but it does put them at greater risk for addiction and harm compared to other treatments, according to a first-of-its-kind study from the Minneapolis VA.

The VA doctors looked at 240 patients who suffer from arthritis in the knees and hips or from chronic back pain, half of whom were treated with opioids while the other half who did not use the medicine for pain management.

The study had a few major takeaways:

  • Overall pain levels for each treatment group dropped roughly the same amount for both groups.
  • Pain intensity decreased for the group that did not use opioids.
  • Treatment-related complications were more common in the group that did use opioids.

The research not only shows that use of opioids should be challenged, but the doctors behind the study say it is time for a deeper look into alternatives, which could include yoga and electrotherapy.

Patient Education Is Required Too

Researchers said this information as important for patients as it is researchers. The study noted that 37% of the people who were not treated with opioids had wanted them from their doctor as part of a pain management regimen.

This means it is the job of medical professionals to not only prescribe what is the healthiest option for patients, but also to educate them on what is proven to be more effective for achieving goals like managing chronic pain. One this is clear, opioids are no longer a desirable choice.

“If pain doctors still think these medicines are effective, then they have a lot of explaining to do and their competence and professionalism deserve to be challenged,” says Dr. Chris Johnson, a researcher working with a Minnesota opioid task force.

What Can Physicians Do?

It’s time for a broader conversation on holistic care. We can no longer look exclusively to pharmaceuticals that put patients at significant risk for harm. It’s time to do better and be safer, for their sake.

The good news is that our understanding of the body continues to grow as does the relief that treatments like electrotherapy can provide. For example, a recent University of Florida study found that older adults do not have as great a diminished capacity for experiencing pain relief as previously thought.

The top treatment option for them is likely electrotherapy.

“We found that TENS was adequate for relieving pain across the lifespan, independent of age. Everybody got better, both in clinical pain measures and experimental pain measures,” said UF lead investigator and pain-relief researcher Corey Simon.

We also need to be aware of situations where prescriptions need reviews. One weak link in the current process is when a patient leaves a hospital and has a few opioids in their possession to treat the pain from an accident or surgery.

Physicians often provide refills for this post-surgical recovery because they assume the hospital would only prescribe good medicine. We’re not saying the hospital is in error by any means, but that it might have only provided a small supply because that was all that was needed — or to curb the chances for addiction.

Doctors: Electrotherapy Is “Good News”

The UF study “is good news for people with pain because they need lots of treatment options and TENS is a low-risk option,” said senior author Steven George. George also serves as the Director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and the Brooks Rehabilitation research collaboration at the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

“TENS is inexpensive, it is a conservative intervention and it is potentially safer for older adults where pharmacologic agents may pose a higher risk,” noted George.

The latest studies show that longer treatment schedules and higher amplitudes can improve results, but there must be a way to balance the delivery in order to prevent the body from growing accustomed to the process.

We believe our solution, the WellnessPro Plus is perfectly designed to tackle this challenge. More than a TENS device, the WellnessPro Plus offers the widest range of electrotherapy amplitudes and frequencies available with five different wave types to allow therapy sessions to use the same frequency but vary intensity for faster, longer relief with settings that work for patients.

Doctors use our device every day to treat countless patients, and themselves, and we think it’s part of a solution that can be good for your practice and your patients.

Contact us right away or learn more about our device to see how it can be a valuable, and profitable, addition to your practice.


If you want to learn more about the benefits of electrotherapy and how electrical stimulation can provide you with all-natural pain relief, download your free brochure about the WellnessPro Plus , the most advanced doctor-recommended TENS unit on the market. If you have specific questions, contact Electromedical Technologies or call us at toll-free (888) 880-7888.

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