Comparison of oxycodone and hydrocodone for the treatment of acute pain associated with fractures: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial

Acad Emerg Med. 2005 Apr;12(4):282-8. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2004.12.005.


Background: Previous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of oxycodone and hydrocodone for the treatment of acute pain. However, to the best of the authors' knowledge, no previous reports have compared the efficacies of these commonly prescribed agents.

Objectives: To compare the efficacies of oxycodone and hydrocodone for the treatment of acute pain associated with fractures in emergency department (ED) patients.

Methods: This prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was conducted at an urban trauma center with an annual census of 65,000. Eligible participants included ED patients over the age of 12 years with fractures who consented to participate. Subjects were randomized to receive either oxycodone (5 mg orally [po]) with acetaminophen, or hydrocodone (5 mg po) with acetaminophen. Measurements included demographic information; pain scores on a verbal numeric rating scale at baseline and at 30 and 60 minutes; vital signs at baseline and at 30 and 60 minutes; and adverse effects. Ninety-five-percent confidence intervals (95% CIs) constructed about means and proportions were used to assess differences between the oxycodone and hydrocodone groups in analgesic efficacy and side effects.

Results: Seventy-three subjects were randomized to receive oxycodone or hydrocodone. Sixty-seven subjects completed the ED study period (n = 35, oxycodone; n = 32, hydrocodone). There was no difference between the two groups in age, weight, gender, ethnicity, diagnoses, baseline pain scores, or vital signs. Patients in both groups had pain relief from baseline to 30 minutes (oxycodone mean change 3.7, 95% CI = 2.9 to 4.6; hydrocodone mean change 2.5, 95% CI = 1.7 to 3.3), and from baseline to 60 minutes (oxycodone mean change 4.4, 95% CI = 3.2 to 5.6; hydrocodone mean change 3.0, 95% CI = 2.1 to 3.9). There was no difference in pain between the patients treated with oxycodone and hydrocodone at 30 minutes (mean difference between groups -0.6, 95% CI = -1.8 to 0.5) or at 60 minutes (mean difference -0.5, 95% CI = -2.0 to 1.0). There was no difference between the groups in nausea, vomiting, itching, or drowsiness; however, the hydrocodone patients had a higher incidence of constipation (oxycodone 0%, hydrocodone 21%, difference in proportions 21%, 95% CI = 3% to 39% more with hydrocodone).

Conclusions: Treatment with acetaminophen and either oxycodone, 5 mg po, or hydrocodone, 5 mg po, resulted in pain relief among ED patients with acute fractures, and there was no difference between the two agents at 30 and 60 minutes. Adverse effect profiles were similar, with the exception of a higher incidence of subsequent constipation with the use of hydrocodone. These results suggest that oxycodone and hydrocodone have similarly potent analgesic effects in the first hour of treatment for ED patients with acute fractures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocodone / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone