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New study highlights way to combat pain without opioids

A newly-released study has some surprising information when it comes to beating pain, and it could make a difference in opioid addiction. (Cleveland Clinic)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A newly-released study has some surprising information when it comes to beating pain, and it could make a difference in opioid addiction.

With the addictoin crisis on the rise, both primary care and emergency medicine experts are trying to reduce the number of prescriptions for opioids.

A new study offers some information that might help in knowing a little bit more about how to help fight pain.

"Over the course of from last May to September, we've reduced the number of opiate prescriptions out of the TriHealth emergency department by over 30 percent," Dr. Phil Oblinger, an ER physician.

Dr. Oblinger is one of several emergency medicine providers already part of efforts in our community to reduce initial opioid prescriptions for pain.

"Our emergency departments in the whole area are working together to develop protocols for chronic pain patients and for an approach to acute pain," he said.

Now this new study is showing them that, for acute pain, they are heading down the right path. The results in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that opioids do not necessarily bring more pain relief than other medications.

The study looked at more than 400 people between the ages of 21 and 64 who came to the emergency department with an injury to their extremities, such as a broken arm. One group of patients were given an opioid and acetaminophen combination for pain relief. The other group was not given opioids, but rather a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Researchers found that after two hours, patients in both groups reported about the same reduction in pain.

Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic who reviewed this study say this shows there are other options that may be considered, and education about pain management is critical for patients and providers.

They also say people should be realistic about their pain levels. Sometimes having a goal of zero, may be good short term but not longer term as more people become addicted to opioids. Since a lot of emergency room visits involve an injury that is painful, this is critical information for patients and providers.

You also shouldn't self-treat with over-the-counter medications if the pain continues.

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