New Study Finds Over-the-Counter Medications Effective for Post-Surgery Pain Control in Children
McCreary County Record – In a groundbreaking study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), researchers have discovered that children who take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, after routine elbow surgery experience similar pain control to those who are prescribed opioids. This study, which has been published in the prestigious Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, suggests that surgeons can confidently recommend non-opioid medications to young patients after elbow surgery.
The study enrolled 157 children, ranging from 3 to 12 years old, who had supracondylar humerus fractures, the most common type of elbow fracture in children. Half of the participants were prescribed opioids in addition to ibuprofen and acetaminophen, while the other half received only the non-opioid medications. Remarkably, the researchers found no significant differences in pain ratings between the two groups at any point during the study.
Furthermore, the study revealed that a significant number of patients prescribed opioids did not actually take them. About 35% of these patients never took the prescribed opioids, while 49% took only one to three doses throughout the entire postoperative period. These findings raise important questions about the necessity of routinely prescribing opioids after elbow surgery, as they can contribute to the risk of opioid misuse, diversion, and accidental poisonings.
Based on their findings, the researchers recommend discontinuing the routine prescription of opioids following this specific procedure, as well as other upper extremity fractures that are repaired in a similar manner. This shift in prescribing practices could greatly reduce the risk of opioid-related issues in pediatric patients. However, the researchers emphasize the need for further research in more invasive pediatric orthopedic procedures and adolescent populations to improve opioid stewardship and the overall quality, safety, and value of surgical care in pediatric orthopedics.
This study has far-reaching implications for the medical community, as it challenges the common practice of prescribing opioids for post-surgery pain control in children. By utilizing over-the-counter medications instead, doctors can potentially mitigate the risks associated with opioids and ensure the well-being of their young patients. With further research and awareness, the medical community can continuously improve the care provided to pediatric patients and contribute to the greater goal of combating the opioid crisis.
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