Acute Low Back Pain: Adding Oxycodone to Naproxen Doesn’t Help

As if on cue, a just-published study in JAMA backed up the recent AAOS statement on opioids by finding that neither the opiate oxycodone nor the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) is a helpful adjunct to naproxen for acute, nontraumatic, nonradicular low back pain.

The study randomized 323 emergency-department (ED) patients presenting with low back pain to receive a 10-day course of naproxen + placebo, naproxen + cyclobenzaprine, or naproxen + oxycodone/acetaminophen. The improvement in scores on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire between the time of ED discharge and one week later was similar in all three groups. This finding led Journal Watch Emergency Medicine Associate Editor Daniel Pallin, MD to comment that “prescribing opioids for a condition that evidence-based consensus guidelines warn against can lead to abuse and addiction.”

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