Over-the-counter pain regimen helps reduce opioid exposure

Over-the-counter pain regimen helps reduce opioid exposure

A pain management regimen of mainly over-the-counter medications for trauma patients reduced opioid exposure and achieved equal levels of pain control, according to a The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) study.

Researchers studied 1,561 patients at the Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. The patients received two different combinations of various nonopioid pain relievers in the hospital and after discharge for acute trauma.

One group received a combination containing intravenous and oral acetaminophen, gabapentin, naproxen, pregabalin, celecoxib, and the narcotic tramadol. Patients were given oxycodone if needed. The method reduced opioid exposure by 31 percent.

The second group received oral acetaminophen, lidocaine patches, naproxen, and gabapentin. They were prescribed opioids if needed. Patients received 14 fewer morphine milligram equivalents daily than the first group and were more likely to be discharged without an opioid prescription.

There were clinically significant differences in patients’ pain scores between groups.

“The research shows us that seriously injured people with acute pain can effectively be treated with an opioid-minimizing strategy,” Dr. John Harvin, Department of Surgery associate professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and first and corresponding author of the study, said. “Narcotics are not the mainstay of therapy for acute pain.”