Taking a prescription opioid or a common over-the-counter analgesic are equally effective at controlling pain after a serious accident, though those on opioids are likely to remain on those drugs for a longer period of time.
Researchers examined the prescribing patterns and pain experience over 6 weeks by 948 people who were involved in car accidents that were taken to the ER and then released.
The risk of pain was no different whether patients took opioids, such as the highly addictive and often abused OxyContin, or NSAIDs Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve. However, those who were initially given opioids were 17.5% more likely to still be taking the drug after 6 weeks, the researchers reported in the journal Pain.
“These results suggest that analgesic choice at [ER] discharge does not influence the development of persistent moderate to severe…pain 6 weeks after a [motor vehicle collision], but may result in continued use of prescription opioids,” the researchers wrote.