Study: NSAID, opioid combo better for post-surgery pain than just opioids

July 12 (UPI) — Prescribing ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, along with opioids for patients after surgery may reduce pain better than prescribing opioids alone, a new study says.

The findings were presented Thursday at the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting.

“The current opioid epidemic demands physicians seek ways to decrease patients’ requirements of narcotic medications without sacrificing their postoperative comfort level,” Kamali A. Thompson, a researcher for New York University Hospital for Joints Diseases and study lead author, said in a news release. “This study evaluated patients’ pain following arthroscopic shoulder instability repair and compared the use of narcotic medications between patients prescribed NSAIDs with rescue opioid prescription to those prescribed opioids alone.”

For the study, the researchers randomly split a group of 40 patients about to undergo arthroscopic shoulder instability repair into two groups. One group took 600 milligrams of ibuprofen and a 10-pill rescue prescription of Percocet 5/325 milligrams, and the second group received only Percocet.

The researchers found the total amount of opioid consumption was significantly lower in the group that received both ibuprofen and Percocet compared to the group that received just Percocet.

In the end, the group that took both ibuprofen and Percocet required far fewer opioids to relieve their pain, the researchers say.

These findings match up to previous research, including one study that showed post-surgery NSAIDs use could cut opioid use by half.

The new study provides an important pathway to slowing down the opioid overdose deaths, which kill more than 130 people in the United States each day.

“It is possible to alleviate postoperative pain with lower amounts of opioids than are currently being prescribed,” Thompson said. “The public health crisis of opioid abuse requires an immediate solution beginning with the reduction of post-operative narcotics distribution.”

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