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Do non-opioids treat leg, arm pain just as well as opioids? Researchers say yes

December 6, 2017

Albany, NY — Non-opioid painkillers are as effective as opioids in treating acute arm or leg pain in adults, according to researchers from Albany Medical College and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

The researchers examined 411 adults who visited two emergency rooms for arm or leg injuries from sprains, strains or fractures. Patients were randomly assigned a combination of pain medications: acetaminophen and ibuprofen (neither of which are opioids), or acetaminophen with one of three common opioids – oxycodone, hydrocodone or codeine.

After two hours, all participants reported their pain had subsided on similar levels.

“The combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen (paracetamol) may represent an effective non-opioid alternative,” researchers wrote, adding that further research may be warranted.

The study was published online Nov. 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.