Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen Combo May Be As Effective At Relieving Injury Pain As Opioids
Many opioid-dependent patients are first introduced to painkillers by emergency room physicians – but a new study finds that over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can provide the same amount of pain relief as opioids. Is this is true, could these doctors prevent patients from becoming dependent by offering alternatives more often?
A recent study used that approach with patients suffering from sprains and broken bones and discovered that a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen was as effective at reducing pain as opioids. These findings could initiate a change in doctor prescription practices that could help stop new patients from becoming addicted.
Moreever, the chronic use of opioids frequently begins when the patient receives a prescription for opioids, a trend in the ER that has increased in the last few years. Past research has revealed that prescriptions for opioids were given in nearly one-third of emergency department visits and around 20% of ER patients are discharged with prescriptions.
The research focused on more than 400 adults who were treated for injury pain in two emergency departments in New York City. In a double-blind study, all subjects were given either a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen or one of three opioid painkillers.
Patients were asked to rate their pain before the medication was administered and then again two hours later. Pain ratings, on average, fell from nearly nine on a 10 point scale to around a 5 – with no significant differences shown between the two groups.
Because acetaminophen and ibuprofen work on different receptors in the body, using a combination of these drugs can be much more potent than one drug alone, according to lead author Dr. Andrew Chang. In fact, these medicinal combinations are available in other countries.
Results were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology