Pain management in trauma patients affected by the opioid epidemic: A narrative review

Kunal Karamchandani, John C. Klick, Melissa Linskey Dougherty, Anthony Bonavia, Steven R. Allen, Zyad Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Acute and chronic pain in trauma patients remains a challenging entity, particularly in the setting of the escalating opioid epidemic. It has been reported that chronic opioid use increases the likelihood of hospital admissions as a result of traumatic injuries. Furthermore, patients admitted with traumatic injuries have a greater than average risk of developing opioid use disorder after discharge. Practitioners providing care to these patients will encounter the issue of balancing analgesic goals and acute opioid withdrawal with the challenge of reducing postdischarge persistent opioid use. Additionally, the practitioner is faced with the worrisome prospect that inadequate treatment of acute pain may lead to the development of chronic pain and overtreatment may result in opioid dependence. It is therefore imperative to understand and execute alternative nonopioid strategies to maximize the benefits and reduce the risks of analgesic regimens in this patient population. This narrative review will analyze the current literature on pain management in trauma patients and highlight the application of the multimodal approach in potentially reducing the risks of both short- and long-term opioid use. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Narrative review, moderate to High.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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