When used in multimodal analgesia for acute pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the requirement for opioids during the perioperative period. To provide more insight into pain treatment during the outpatient period, we examined the use of opioid rescue medication (RM) and described the relationship between pain intensity and RM use in patients with acute pain after bunionectomy. Patients received placebo or 25 mg of a liquid-filled capsule version of the NSAID diclofenac potassium (DPLFC; n=188 patients/group) every 6 hours during the 48-hour inpatient period through the end of outpatient dosing on day 4. Opioid RM (hydrocodone/acetaminophen tablets, 5 mg/500 mg) was available as needed, but taken at least 1 hour post-study medication. Fewer patients taking DPLFC versus placebo requested opioid RM during the inpatient period (4.8%-44.7% versus 25.0%-90.4%) and also during the outpatient period (3.7%-16.0% versus 13.1%-46.4%). Moderate or severe pain after surgery (P=0.0307 and P=0.0002, respectively) or at second dose (P=0.0006 and P=0.0002, respectively) was predictive of RM use. Patients taking RM (placebo/DPLFC) reported more adverse events (RM 55.7%/40.6%; no RM 29.4%/26.0%). Most adverse events in the RM group were opioid-related. In summary, this study shows that DPLFC lowers the requirement for opioids, which is associated with a reduction in the occurrence of treatment side effects, while maintaining adequate analgesia for patients with moderate acute pain in both the outpatient and outpatient periods. Patients with more severe pain are more likely to use RM, but they still use fewer opioids when treated with DPLFC. This suggests that multimodal treatment using DPLFC and an opioid may offer an important clinical benefit in the treatment of acute pain, including in the home environment.
Keywords: acute pain; diclofenac; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; opioid sparing; opioids.