Drugstore pain pills as effective as opioids in ER situations
Emergency rooms are where many patients are first introduced to powerful opioid painkillers, but what if doctors offered over-the-counter pills instead? A new study tested that approach on patients with broken bones and sprains and found pain relievers sold as Tylenol and Motrin worked as well as opioids at reducing severe pain.
The results challenge common ER practice for treating short-term, severe pain and could prompt changes that would help prevent new patients from becoming addicted.
The study has limitations: It only looked at short-term pain relief in the emergency room, and researchers didn’t evaluate how patients managed their pain after leaving the hospital.
But given the scope of the U.S. opioid epidemic – more than 2 million Americans are addicted to opioid painkillers or heroin – experts say any dent in the problem could be meaningful.
Results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Long-term opioid use often begins with a prescription painkiller for short-term pain, and use of these drugs in the ER has risen in recent years.