Using Opioids for Treatment of Acute Pain

"Mild to moderate acute pain is often relieved by physical interventions—such as the application of ice, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), massage or stretching, and/or bracing—along with a mild analgesic such as an NSAID or acetaminophen. More severe pain often requires opioid therapy, which will be discussed in depth below. When appropriately skilled clinicians are available in a system that is comfortable supporting such treatments, nerve blocks or spinal infusions can sometimes control more severe acute pain. Examples of common acute pain procedures are rib blocks for rib fractures or thoracic incisions; epidural infusions for thoracic, abdominal, or lower body surgery or trauma; and brachial plexus infusions for upper extremity postsurgical or trauma-related pain.
"Clinicians should generally not let concerns about addiction deter them from using opioids that are needed for severe acute pain. Carefully supervised short-term use of opioids in the context of time-limited treatment of such pain has not been documented to affect the long-term course of addictive disorders. Rather, inadequate pain control and treatment that frustrates, stresses, or confuses patients may lead to relapse (Wasan et al., 2006)."


Savage, Seddon R., Kenneth L. Kirsh, and Steven D. Passik. "Challenges in Using Opioids to Treat Pain in Persons With Substance Use Disorders." Addiction Science & Clinical Practice 4.2 (2008): 4–25.