OBJECTIVE: To determine whether using nothing stronger than codeine and tramadol provides adequate pain alleviation in people recovering from fixation of a fracture of the femur or tibia shaft. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. SETTING: Level 1 trauma center in the United States. PATIENTS: All adult patients from October 2016 to October 2018 with femur (OTA/AO 32) and tibial (OTA/AO 42) shaft fractures who were treated surgically were included. A nurse counseled patients on safe and effective alleviation of pain. Charts were reviewed for pain medication prescribed, noting utilization of schedule II opioid medications. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Frequency of schedule II pain medication prescription on discharge or during follow-up, emergency department presentation for pain, or readmission for pain. RESULTS: One hundred fifty patients with 162 fractures were treated for femoral (N = 73 fractures) or tibial (N = 89 fractures) shaft fractures. Sixty patients (40%) were multiple injured patients. Thirteen (8.7%) patients were discharged with hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl. Of the remaining patients with adequate follow-up (N = 109), 6.4% requested hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl after discharge. There was 1 patient presentation to the emergency department for pain, and there were no pain-related readmissions. CONCLUSIONS: Alleviation of pain can be achieved in most patients with femoral and tibial shaft fractures, including multiply injured patients, with one-on-one patient support and by using nothing stronger than codeine and tramadol. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
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