, Volume 59, Issue 11, pp 989-995
Date: 20 May 2010

Higher pain scores, similar opioid doses and side effects associated with antipyretic analgesics in specialised tertiary pain care

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Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate whether non-opioid antipyretic analgesics are associated with lower pain scores, opioid doses and side effects in pain patients in tertiary care.

Methods

In a cross-sectional observational study, data from 519 Caucasians (197 men, 322 women; mean age 55.6 ± 15 years) who had undertaken pain therapy for various causes for 77.5 ± 90.8 months, obtained in three separate study centres, was analysed for actual 24-h pain scores, daily opioid doses and the occurrence of side effects.

Results

Of the 519 patients, 352 received opioids and 260 antipyretic analgesics, from whom 154 received both classes and 304 only either class. The administration of non-opioid antipyretic analgesics was associated with higher average pain scores (4.6 ± 2.5 vs 3.9 ± 2.6; P = 0.01), tendentially higher average oral morphine equivalent doses (121.8 ± 162.2 vs 146.7 ± 242.4 mg/d; P = 0.25) and a similar incidence of side effects (P = 0.21). These results were correspondingly seen when analysing the three study centres separately as independent cohorts.

Conclusions

With the caution advised for cross-sectional data, the results dispute a clinical benefit of non-opioid antipyretic analgesics for most chronic pain patients in tertiary care and draw attention towards prospectively re-evaluating the utility of non-opioid antipyretic analgesics in tertiary pain care in a randomised placebo controlled trial.

Responsible Editor: Michael Parnham.