Wouldn't it be great if there was a study that compared patient outcomes among several groups based on a single, common diagnosis but several potential medication regimens? How might such a study be designed?
Perhaps you could identify 300 patients, all of whom presented in the emergency department of a hospital with acute low back pain. We might assess their level of disability utilizing a widely used health status measure like, say, the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). We might divide the patients into three groups based on their medication regimen:
1. Naproxen + placebo
2. Naproxen + cyclobenzaprine
3. Naproxen + oxycodone/acetaminophen
We'd make sure the initial RMDQ scores were roughly similar across all three groups. We'd also make sure all three groups were similar demographically and that each patient received education on management of low back pain prior to discharge from the hospital. Then we'd call the patients at the 1 week mark and the 3 month mark to re-assess their level of disability. That would tell us which of the three various medication regimens provides for the best patient outcomes.
Such a study would be helpful, right?
Well, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine conducted just such a study and the results are compelling.
It appears that "take two Aleve and get some rest" may, in fact, be the best (and certainly the safest) course of action when it comes to preventing acute LBP from becoming chronic LBP.
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