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  1. Griffioen, Mari A. PhD, RN
  2. O'Brien, Grace


Effective treatment of acute pain during hospitalization following lower extremity fracture is critical to improve short-term patient outcomes including wound healing, stress response, hospital length of stay, and cost as well as minimizing long-term negative patient outcomes such as delayed return to work, disability, and chronic pain. As many patients report moderate to severe pain during hospitalization, identifying the analgesics that most effectively reduces pain is a priority to improve patient outcomes. The purpose of this review was to examine published studies describing patient response to analgesics administered orally (PO) or intravenously (IV) in the immediate hospitalization following lower extremity fracture. PubMed was queried for articles published through May 2017 that included information on type of study, population, fracture site, pain measurement tool, analgesic, and result. Of 514 articles found, eight met the inclusion criteria. Analgesics administered PO or IV were fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, remifentanil, diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketorolac, and etoricoxib. Five of the studies focused on comparisons between one or more analgesics and three studies compared an IV analgesic to a regional anesthetic agent. Two studies compared different nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Bupivacaine, lignocaine, and levobupivacaine administered as regional nerve blocks were superior to controlling pain compared with IV fentanyl and IV hydromorphone. IV morphine provided faster and better pain relief compared with IV ibuprofen. Based on the limited data available, regional nerve blocks provided superior pain relief compared with opioids, and opioids provided superior pain relief compared with NSAIDs. Different NSAIDs provided similar pain relief.