Research shows patients experience pain relief without opioids

More Than 500,000 people died of drug overdose in 2000

A combination of Tylenol and Advil worked just as well as opioids for relief of pain in the emergency room, a randomized trial has found.

Experts say the findings suggest there are effective ways to treat pain that does not involve opioids.

Lead study author Dr. Andrew Changtold Time that the results surprised him.

"Some docs will reflexively give an opioid to anyone with a fracture", Dr. Chang said.

Researchers studied 416 men and women who arrived in the E.R. with moderate to severe pain in their arms or legs from sprains, strains, fractures or other injuries.

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The patients were divided into four groups, three of which were given acetaminophen combined with opioids including oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine, while one group was given a combined dose of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

The patients were asked to rate their pain on a 10-point scale before taking the medication and again two hours later. "This study lends evidence that opioids aren't always necessary even in the presence of fractures".

Chang did not find much difference between the pain ratings among those who were given the non-opioid pain relievers and the opioid-based ones.

The outbreak of opiate addiction which has rendered roughly 2 million Americans obsessed with narcotic painkillers, had taken more than 183,000 lives since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors have gone into the increasing opioid epidemic, but many addicts cite their first taste of opioids happened when they were treated for acute pain associated with orthopedic surgeries or dental procedures.

The findings have implications for countering the growing problem of opioid dependence and abuse, said principal investigator Andrew Chang, MD, of Albany Medical College in NY.