According to new guidelines released by the National Institute for Healthcare and Excellence (NICE), commonly used painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen offer little to no evidence that they provide relief from primary chronic pain and should not be prescribed.
This new report is set to shake up pain treatment for the nation, calling for a more holistic approach to chronic pain management and emphasising the role of shared decision-making, putting the patient’s lifestyle and preferences at the centre of their care.
It has been estimated that chronic pain, described as pain lasting over three months, may affect up to half of the population. A large proportion of these relate to secondary chronic pain involving joint health conditions, with back pain alone accounting for the single largest cause of disability in the UK, and one third of the population aged over 45 seeking treatment for osteoarthritis.
In fact, 17 million adults in the UK are affected by a joint or musculoskeletal condition, with nearly half of those dependent on paracetamol for the management of debilitating symptoms, despite mounting evidence regarding the associated health risks if taken long-term.
Following this guidance, set out by NICE which condemns the long-term use of analgesics, healthcare professionals and patients alike should be looking to alternative solutions for pain relief. These include keeping active, discussing with patients the causes of their pain, acknowledging that painkillers are typically not a cure and at times, in primary chronic pain, (perversely) they may be part of the problem.
GP and Health Economist, Dr Alastair Dickson, comments: ‘It is important to give patients the option to explore a holistic approach when it comes to treating musculoskeletal chronic pain, and to develop joint treatments plans that use any pain killer sparingly. The latest NICE guidance on chronic pain highlights the lack of evidence on clinical efficacy in the ways many analgesic drugs are used to treat pain and highlights that many of these drugs may cause harm including the risk of addiction.
‘The latest update to the NICE osteoarthritis guidelines on opioid use places greater emphasis on the potential risk of harm on prescribing opiates. Clinicians are increasingly concerned about the prescribing options that they are left with when paracetamol and NSAIDs are insufficient or not tolerated by their patients. There is a need for alternative options particularly for when patients experience flares on their musculoskeletal pain.’
Fortunately, in resent years studies have shown promising pain-reliving properties from a compound found in rose-hips, a galactolipid by the name of GOPO.
GOPO Joint Health is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory treatment derived from the seeds and husks of rose-hips, proven to reduce joint pain in hips and knees and may be an alternative to other pain killers. Laboratory studies also suggest that GOPO® may have anti-inflammatory properties. Considered by many to be a safer and more effective analgesic alternative to paracetamol and other prescription medications, GOPO should be recommended as a first-line treatment option for joint health patients.
According to Dr Alastair Dickson: ‘The evidence for GOPO, which has three randomised clinical trials, suggest it is a suitable over-the-counter supplement for osteoarthritic hip and knee pain. The difficulty with herbal remedies is the size of the studies available however, it is clear they do have positive effects for some patients. As per the NICE Chronic Pain guidance if your osteoarthritis pain appears to be getting worse, or is excessive despite using medication to control the pain, you should seek medical advice.’
GOPO is supported by scientific studies involving over 400 patients with chronic pain conditions, demonstrating that daily supplementation produces effective and consistent pain relief and improved joint function. In one study, 8 out of 10 patients reported a significant reduction in pain after just three weeks of GOPO.
Speak to your GP, pharmacist of healthcare professional to find out more if you’re looking for alternative treatment options.
GOPO Joint Health is available from Boots, Amazon, supermarkets and independent chemists nationwide.