Keywords: musculoskeletal pain, analgesia, opioids (PubMed Search)
Opioids & NSAIDs for MSK pain in the ED: Effectiveness and Harms
Study selection: A recent systematic review in Annals of Internal Medicine attempted to evaluate the effectiveness and harms of opioids for musculoskeletal pain in the emergency department.
Included were RCTs of any opioid analgesic as compared with placebo or a nonopioid analgesic.
Conditions studied: bone injuries, soft tissue injuries, spinal pain, and mixed presentations.
Out of 2464 articles, they included 42 trials (n=6128).
Effectiveness data: Opioids were statistically but not clinically more effective in reducing pain in the short term (approximately 2 hours) versus placebo and Tylenol but were not clinically or statistically more effective than NSAIDs.
Take home: Opioids and NSAIDs may have about the same pain outcomes.
Harm data: The results on harms were very mixed. Overall, there were fewer harms with NSAIDs than opioids. However, many studies showed less of a difference. The benefit with NSAIDs due to fewer harms may be less in patients with mixed musculoskeletal conditions.
Opioids may carry higher risk for harms than placebo, Tylenol, or NSAIDs. Authors also found that an increased opioid dose may increase harms from opioids.
Limitations: Limited data on long-term outcomes and longer-term pain management
Jones CMP, Lin CC, et al. Effectiveness of Opioid Analgesic Medicines Prescribed in or at Discharge From Emergency Departments for Musculoskeletal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2022 Oct 18.