A Randomized Trial Comparing the Efficacy of Five Oral Analgesics for Treatment of Acute Musculoskeletal Extremity Pain in the Emergency Department

Polly E. Bijur, Benjamin W. Friedman, Eddie Irizarry, Andrew K. Chang, E. John Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Study objective: We compare the efficacy and adverse effects of 5 oral analgesics in emergency department (ED) patients aged 21 to 64 years with acute musculoskeletal pain. Methods: This was a randomized clinical trial conducted in 2 urban EDs. Patients received 400 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen, 800 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen, 30 mg codeine/300 mg acetaminophen, 5 mg hydrocodone/300 mg acetaminophen, or 5 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen. The primary outcome was change in pain before administration of medication (baseline) to 1 hour postbaseline. A numeric rating scale was used, varying from 0=“no pain” to 10=“worst imaginable pain.” Secondary outcomes included receipt of rescue medication and adverse effects at 1 and 2 hours postbaseline. ANOVA was used to test differences in the primary outcome between treatment groups. Results: Six hundred participants, predominantly men and Latino, were enrolled. Change in pain from baseline to 60 minutes did not differ by treatment (P=.69). The mean change in pain in numeric rating scale units was 400 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen 3.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6 to 3.5); 800 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen 3.0 (95% CI 2.5 to 3.5), 30 mg codeine/300 mg acetaminophen 3.4 (95% CI 2.9 to 3.9), 5 mg hydrocodone/300 mg acetaminophen 3.1 (95% CI 2.7 to 3.5), and 5 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen 3.3 (95% CI 2.8 to 3.7). Rescue medication was received before 1 hour had elapsed by 2 patients receiving 400 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen (1.7%), 3 patients receiving 800 mg ibuprofen/1,000 mg acetaminophen (2.5%), zero patients receiving 30 mg codeine/300 mg acetaminophen (0.0%), 3 patients receiving 5 mg hydrocodone/300 mg acetaminophen (2.5%), and zero patients receiving 5 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetaminophen (0.0%) (P=.21). More patients who received opioids were nauseated or vomited compared with those who did not: 6.7% versus 1.7% (5.0% difference; 95% CI 1.7% to 8.2%). The findings at 2 hours were similar. Conclusion: No analgesic was more efficacious than others 1 or 2 hours after baseline. There was significantly more nausea and vomiting among patients treated with opioids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Volume77
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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