NSAIDs trump codeine in post-op pain management, study says

After outpatient surgery, adults treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs self-reported lower pain scores and fewer side effects than those treated with codeine, a study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal reported. 

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, led by Matthew Choi, MD, PhD, compared NSAIDs and codeine in the treatment of adult patients after outpatient surgery. 

The data was collected from responses of 5,116 patients, who were asked to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 in the first six hours post-op, then between six and 12 hours, 12 to 24 hours, 24 to 48 hours, 48 to 72 hours, and finally three days after treatment. 

Patients treated with NSAIDs reported better pain scores at every interval compared to codeine and experienced fewer negative side effects, including bleeding events, according to the study published last year.

"Our findings are consistent with codeine's known disadvantages. We suspect that the anti-inflammatory mechanism of action of NSAIDs are better suited to the acute pain of postoperative patients," said the researchers.

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