- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Treating patients with non-opioid medications was seen as effective as prescribing opioids to emergency-room patients for pain associated with sprains, strains or fractures, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Andrew Chang of the Albany Medical College and researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial to assess the effects of an ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) mix compared to a small dose of opioids and acetaminophen on alleviating patient pain.

In an assessment of 462 patients who came to two emergency departments with moderate to severe-acute pain, the researchers found that in both instances — non-opioid vs opioid — patients reported pain alleviation within two hours.

“The findings suggest that ibuprofen-acetaminophen is a reasonable alternative to opioid management of acute extremity pain due to sprain, strain, or fracture, but further research to assess longer-term effect, adverse events and dosing is warranted,” the authors wrote.

Over two million are believed to misuse or have an addiction to opioid medications, with 60,000 drug overdose deaths occurring in 2016. Many factors have gone into the increasing opioid epidemic, but many addicts cite their first taste of opioids happened when they were treated for acute pain associated with orthopedic surgeries or dental procedures.

Overprescription of the highly addictive narcotics helped fuel the epidemic, which President Trump declared a public health emergency last month.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Demetrios Kyriacou, senior editor for JAMA and an emergency room physician in Chicago, wrote that preventing new patients from becoming addicted to opioids is an important aspect of resolving the opioid epidemic in addition to providing sustained treatment options for already addicted patients.

“Part of the overall strategy will also require a reduction in number of prescribed opioids through the development of non-opioid treatment approaches for both acute and chronic pain management,” he wrote. “Genuine efforts should be made to reduce overall opioid prescribing in the [Emergency Department] setting while still providing adequate pain relief.”

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