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Oral analgesics for acute nonspecific pain.

Author(s): Sachs CJ

Affiliation(s): University of California, Los Angeles, Emergency Medicine Center, Los Angeles, California, USA. csachs@ucla.edu

Publication date & source: 2005-03-01, Am Fam Physician., 71(5):913-8.

Publication type: Review

Physicians most often recommend or prescribe oral medication for relief of acute pain. This review of the available evidence supports the use of acetaminophen in doses up to 1,000 mg as the initial choice for mild to moderate acute pain. In some cases, modest improvements in analgesic efficacy can be achieved by adding or changing to a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The safest NSAID is ibuprofen in doses of 400 mg. Higher doses may offer somewhat greater analgesia but with more adverse effects. Other NSAIDs have failed to demonstrate consistently greater efficacy or safety than ibuprofen. Although they may be more expensive, these alternatives may be chosen for their more convenient dosing. Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors provide equivalent efficacy to traditional NSAIDs but lack a demonstrable safety advantage for the treatment of acute pain. For more severe acute pain, the evidence supports the addition of oral narcotic medications such as hydrocodone, morphine, or oxycodone. Specific oral analgesics that have shown poor efficacy and side effects include codeine, propoxyphene, and tramadol.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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