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AB T2H 0W3

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Opioids and Pain Relief - What's Your Alternative

April 13, 2018

The Crisis 

We know opioid use has reached a crisis level in Canada. You can hardly scroll through the news without hearing of another overdose or misuse of opioids. In 2016 there were 2,861 opioid related deaths in Canada tallying up to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 population according to Health Canada website. We also know that prescription opioids have played an immense role in creating the problem. A review of academic literature tells us that 8-12% of people initiated into opioid therapy for chronic pain develop an addiction.




"8-12% of people initiated into opioid therapy for chronic pain develop an addiction." 




Do They Work?

Unfortunately, not only can opioids be dangerous they have not been proven to be effective for chronic pain. The Coalition for Safe and Effective Pain Management's 2017 Interim Report states that: 

"The effectiveness of opioids is limited in terms of improvements in pain and function when compared to other treatment options. Opioids treat pain as a symptom and do not address the cause or underlying condition and have demonstrated poor health outcomes in restoring function, returning to work, and increasing quality of life. The effectiveness of these painkillers for treating chronic pain beyond 12 weeks has not be reliably established. For example, a recent study found that those receiving an opioid prescription shortly after developing acute low back pain were less likely to return to work compared to those who did not receive an opioid. In addition, there is a strong correlation between increasing duration of opioid use for patients with back pain and increasing prevalence of mental health conditions." 


What's The Alternative?  



"Optimization of non-opioid pharmacotherapy and non-pharmacological therapy, rather than a trial of opioids for patients with chronic non-cancer pain" 

The question then becomes where should we turn to help find relief from chronic pain? 

The 2017 Canadian National Pain Centre Guidelines for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain recommend non-pharmacological therapy includes treatments such as:

  • physical activity

  • acupuncture

  •  massage therapy

  • spinal manipulation 

  •  multidisciplinary rehabilitation 

These treatment methods have been proven to be effective for the relief of pain related to many conditions such as Rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, fibromyalgia, low back pain,  dysmenorrhoea, mechanical neck disorder, patellofemoral pain etc.



The ELEVATE Method


This method of treatment is exactly how we approach the treatment of pain at Elevate. With a team of Physiotherapists, Kinesiologists, Massage Therapists, and Nutritionists we are able to take a multidisciplinary approach to pain, discovering and treating the root cause, rather than just masking symptoms. Pain can often be referred from or rooted in a different part of the body then where we are directly experiencing it. Without taking the time for a thorough assessment to discover the root of the problem you will leave yourself vulnerable to a quick relapse or flare up of your pain after treatment. If you are suffering with chronic pain, maybe it's time to try a different approach. 



Don't Miss Out!

On May 7th I will be attending the Calgary Pain Conference. I think it is critically important to stay up to date on current research. I am excited to learn about advances in pain research and treatment and how to better prevent and manage both acute and chronic pain. The keynote speaker Lorimer Mosely is a Professor of Clinical Neuroscience and Foundation Chair in Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. With over 25 years clinical experience working with people in chronic pain, Lorimer has published over 305 papers, six books and numerous book chapters including co-authoring “Explain Pain”, “The Explain Pain Handbook: Protectometer” and “Explain Pain Supercharged” (a clinician’s manual). with David Butler. 


Professor Mosely is also doing a public presentation in Calgary called: "Amazing Pain Facts That will Change Your Life." I would encourage anyone who is dealing with persistent pain, or is interested in better understanding pain to attend. The event takes place on: 


 May 7th from 6:30-8:30 pm. 

 MacEwan Centre- Hall A & B

 402 Collegiate Blvd NW 

 Calgary, AB 


The link to register can be found here


I hope to see you there! 




1. Canada, H. (2017, December 18). Apparent opioid-related deaths. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from

2. Vowles KE, McEntee ML, Julnes PS, Frohe T, Ney JP, van der Goes DN. Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis. Pain. 2015 Apr;156(4):569- 76.16

3. The Coalition For Safe and Effective Pain Management. Reducing the Role of Opioids in Pain Management. Interim Report. Nov. 2017. 

4. Busse, J. W., Craigie, S., Juurlink, D. N., Buckley, D. N., Wang, L., Couban, R. J., ... & Cull, C. (2017). Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 189(18), E659-E666.