Strong opioids not better than milder painkillers after surgery for fractures, study finds

By Donna Lu

Patients who had undergone orthopaedic surgery at a Sydney hospital to treat one or more fractures were asked to rate their pain on a scale from one to ten, where 10 represented the worst pain imaginable.

Patients on strong opioids reported an average pain score of 4.04 out of 10.

Patients on paracetamol and codeine had a score of 4.54.

The study found oxycodone hydrochloride tablets did not provide superior pain relief compared with a combination of paracetamol and codeine, “despite a six-fold higher dose of opioid being delivered”.

Clinicians should consider a less-is-more-approach for pain management upon hospital discharge following fracture surgery. It makes good sense to avoid medications that can cause harm if they provide no greater benefit as was the case here – no better pain outcomes for the strong opioid group.

Dr Deanne Jenkin
Daffodil Centre

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