Topical analgesics can curb opioid addiction, finds study

Topical analgesics can curb opioid addiction, finds study

Opioid addiction is one of the most chronic issues taking a toll on the lives of people in the United States. While a lot has already been done to fight against the above-mentioned menace, a new study conducted by the research firm Clarity Science highlighted that topical analgesics could play an effective role in dealing with opioid addiction among chronic pain patients.

According to the study, published in the journal Postgraduate Medicine, approximately half of patients who were prescribed a topical analgesic after taking opioid painkillers quit taking opioids within the next six months. Along with this, around three in 10 patients stopped taking any pain medication at all.

Unlike oral analgesics that cause severe side effects, topical analgesics ensure the same relief with minimal consequences. With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States flagging new warnings every now and then against painkillers, topical analgesics have steadily become a safer alternative for treating pain. The findings of the study corroborate the clinical outcomes of topical analgesics.

Key findings of the study

A subset of patients was taken as a sample from a recent study Optimizing Patient Experience and Response to Topical Analgesics (OPERA). At the beginning of the study, these patients took opioids to find relief from chronic pain. Later, they were prescribed topical analgesics to help them deal with their pain. While the patients continued taking their dosages, they were reassessed after three months and six months, respectively.

During the study, around 121 patients completed the baseline assessment and three-month follow-up. It was found that around 49 percent of the participants had discontinued taking opioids by the time of the follow-up and approximately 31 percent were no more using any sort of pain medications. At the end, a drop of 65 percent was witnessed in the number of patients using two or more pain medications simultaneously.

Among 27 patients in the six-month follow-up group, around 56 percent stopped using opioids at the beginning of the sixth month and around 30 percent stopped taking any pain medications. The proportion of patients using concurrent medications also dropped by 74 percent. Apart from these, even the severity of pain reduced in both the groups. There were minimal side effects caused due to topical analgesics that were found in less than 2 percent of the patients.

According to Jeffrey Gudin, MD, the lead investigator of the study, “The results were indeed a pleasant surprise. As a practicing pain management specialist, I can tell you the topical analgesics at least can minimize opioid requirements, but at best we see results similar to the study whereby patients can discontinue opioids completely.”

Topical analgesic not so commonly accepted

Topical analgesics are not commonly accepted by the masses due to insufficient scientific evidences on their role in the management of chronic pain. With the focus on reducing the number of patients being prescribed opioids, other available therapeutic options like topical analgesics must be considered to allow proper treatment and management of pain. However, one more hurdle would be convincing patients that they can trust a topical analgesic.

In order to convince patients to use topical analgesics, medical practitioners must explain them about such alternative medications that are comparatively safer and less risky than other options available.  They need to be adequately counseled about the benefits and repercussions to instill confidence in them about such medications.

If you or someone you know is addicted to any prescription drug, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for more information. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 or chat online with our specialists at the state-of-the art prescription drug rehab in Florida. Moreover, you can also access relevant information about the best prescription drug rehabilitation facilities in Florida.

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