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New draft NICE guidelines for chronic pain emphasises exercise, CBT and acupuncture over medication

Discussion in 'Other guidelines with public consultation process' started by Esther12, Aug 3, 2020.

  1. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I have spoken to one journalist who seems to be on the ball and ready to produce something - although the emphasis may be on slightly different priorities from those often discussed here.

    I may be speaking to another journalist later.
     
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  2. Amw66

    Amw66 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Perhaps you have to be colour blind to participate?

    ETA or perhaps they swop cardigans halfway through....
     
  3. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    That's it! - we could patent the method. It would solve all the BPS problems.
     
  4. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    This article was published when the new chronic pain guidelines were in draft form (Sep 2020), and I think it is worth reading :

    Title : ‘Hysterical until proven otherwise’: how NICE is trying to tell women their pain is all in their heads

    Link : https://hystericalwomen.co.uk/2020/...wise-nice-tell-women-pain-all-in-their-heads/

    I have a question on this new guidance. If people are always assumed to have chronic pain with no cause when they first turn up in a doctor's surgery how are mistakes in diagnosis ever rectified? It seems to me that the answer is never, and life-long torture is going to become the gold standard for pain treatment.
     
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  5. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    So the guideline recommends exercise, CBT, ACT, acupuncture, antidepressants etc.

    But it actively discourages the use of pain medication (NSAIDS, opoids, paracetamol).
     
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  6. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Women with chronic pain are already dismissed – new guidelines denying them painkillers are a disaster


    https://inews.co.uk/opinion/women-chronic-pain-new-guidelines-deny-painkillers-945582
     
  7. cassava7

    cassava7 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The lack of evidence for pharmacological treatments in chronic primary pain, other than for anti-depressants, seems to be a direct consequence of the psychiatric/biopsychosocial approach to its clinical management and to research on it. Comparing the numbers of studies that were included for each type of treatment highlights this issue (section 1.4.1):

    - Exercise: 91 studies and 3 Cochrane reviews with 32 comparisons of interventions

    - Psychotherapy: 47 studies with 18 comparisons

    - Pharmacological management: 34 studies with 11 comparisons, including 22 studies on anti-depressants vs. 5 for NSAIDs, 5 for benzodiazepines, none for opioids

    The evidence base was such that the NICE committee got to consider 4 times as many studies on exercise and psychotherapy combined than pharmacological management, and twice as many on anti-depressants than other drugs. A question that comes to mind, then, is that while pharmaceutical laboratories might be content from a financial viewpoint with the recommendation of anti-depressants, would it not also be interesting for them to generate evidence on painkillers for the treatment of chronic primary pain?

    Another issue with the evidence base is how trials of painkillers were designed. Their trials were of continuous usage, but this is not sensible nor realistic due to their adverse effects. I reckon that most patients are aware of the risk of harm and many (but not all) try to reserve their usage of painkillers to the most difficult times of a pain flare -- taking them spontaneously, not continually, throughout the course of a few hours to a few weeks --. I would think that, had patients with chronic primary pain been properly involved in research/designing trials, by now we would have trials of spontaneous usage.

    Also, therapeutic education on painkillers has an important role to play on their responsible usage, but how consistently is it provided to people with chronic primary pain -- who are often dismissed by MDs --? I am not sure that the NICE guideline proposed this as a harm reduction method (but the old one might have). I do not know the literature on chronic secondary pain (with an identified cause) but I suppose the above points must have been studied in this context. In the evidence review, there is no sign that they were discussed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  8. MSEsperanza

    MSEsperanza Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  9. Joan Crawford

    Joan Crawford Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I haven't had a close look recently but from recall a lot is of similar design to PACE/FINE. E. G. pretty much all uses subjective outcome measures and questionnaires in trials that are hard to blind on complex multicomponent programmes like PMPs etc. However, these are categorically not aimed at cure or pain reduction. That is big difference to PACE or MUS type approach that aims to cure when even the eb for helping people to cope is of low quality.

    The British Pain Society guidelines for PMPs will have references relating to that.
     
  10. MSEsperanza

    MSEsperanza Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Twitter thread from one of the commenters on Edzard Ernst's blog:

    Code:
    https://twitter.com/compandalt/status/1380068792244523013?s=20
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/compandalt/status/1380069082284888064
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  11. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Ernst again completely misses the point that exercise and ACT are just as bogus as acupuncture.
     
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  12. Michiel Tack

    Michiel Tack Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Same here in this article from Science based medicine.

    It states:
    "Their recommendation for acupuncture benefits ≤3 months is based, by their own admission, mostly on very low quality evidence and some low quality evidence. What does this mean? Mostly that the trials are not properly controlled or blinded. Given that acupuncture has a high placebo effect, this renders the results mostly worthless. Even within a pure EBM framework, this is an extremely weak justification for a recommendation."​

    Isn't this the case for exercise, CBT and ACT as well?

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/uk-recommendations-wrong-on-acupuncture/
     
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  13. MSEsperanza

    MSEsperanza Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Also the Twitterer I quoted above.

    It's noticeable that they rightly criticize how evidence was evaluated for alternative interventions in a systematic review or a meta-review used for a guidance, but they skip the very same problem with other interventions in the same review/ guidance.

    Perhaps someone should make them aware of this omission in a factual, not too challenging manner?

    (Why I think it needs to be "not too challenging"; i.e. why the people quoted above don't apply the same standards to interventions not classified as 'alternative' is another topic.)

    Edited for clarity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  14. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    You can hear them double-thinking.
     
  15. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    We tried that. Ernst does not seem to see much beyond his nose in this respect.
     
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  16. cassava7

    cassava7 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I submitted the following comment to Ernst's blog:

    There will be many critical responses to NICE’s recommendation of acupuncture, and rightly so: the evidence it is based on is very weak.

    But equally, why are the recommendations of exercise and psychotherapy not being criticized?

    Like acupuncture, the evidence that NICE reviewed for these interventions mostly comprised low to very low quality studies, first and foremost non-blinded trials with subjective outcomes. Even then, most differences in outcomes between control and active groups were clinically insignificant (under the thresholds for a minimally important difference), e.g. varying by just a few points or decimals on questionnaires.

    A critical appraisal of the guideline needs to take all of the evidence into account — not only that which receives the most attention –.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  17. MSEsperanza

    MSEsperanza Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yes, I'm afraid you're right.

    But maybe others who read the comments will be more open.

    (My name is Hope.)
     
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  18. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Yeah the issues are far from limited to acupuncture, making it an odd item to focus on. Then again, if a process manufactures positive evidence for pseudoscience, all that tells you is that this process cannot distinguish between sham and real medicine, is highly manipulable for outcome-seeking purposes.

    Which frankly is the only reasonable conclusion to make from this. We know for a fact that the substance of the "interventions" is irrelevant using such weak methodology, it could just as well be healing crystals or living barefoot. The only reason sham acupuncture or other sham controls fail is very likely because the research bias doesn't weakly tip the scale like it does when they want it to work.
     
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  19. cassava7

    cassava7 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Ernst replied to my comment:

    “But equally, why are the recommendations of exercise and psychotherapy not being criticized?”
    In case you’ve missed it: this blog is on so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).
    ETA: Per Ernst [1],

    Complementary and alternative medicine is defined as "diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention which complements mainstream medicine by contributing to a common whole, by satisfying a demand not met by orthodoxy or by diversifying the conceptual frameworks of medicine."
    Exercise and psychotherapy highlight an important issue with this definition. They are mainstream and orthodox in Western societies, with the effect that they (and commonly accepted therapies on this side of the world) become a blind spot of ours when they are used to treat ailments for which they are not effective -- and possibly harmful --.

    [1] Ernst E. The role of complementary and alternative medicine. BMJ. 2000;321(7269):1133-1135. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7269.1133
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
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  20. Art Vandelay

    Art Vandelay Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Psychotherapy isn't a scam? It's certainly quackery in my book.
     
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