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New NICE guidance does not change how pain from fractures is managed

Expertise

08 Apr 2021

If you’ve read recent reports in the media about new advice to avoid medication for chronic pain, please be assured that pain-relieving drugs are still appropriate and safe to take after painful spinal fractures or other broken bones.

The reports come following new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which recommend that people with chronic primary pain – meaning pain that has no known cause – should not be given drugs including paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, benzodiazepines or opioids. This is because there is little evidence that they make a difference to people’s quality of life or pain, but they can cause harm and possible addiction.

However, reports about this guidance may cause some confusion for those who are taking these medicines for pain that has a known cause – such as pain caused by broken bones due to osteoporosis. We want to reassure people with pain caused by broken bones, that these medications are still appropriate to use.

Our Clinical Advisor, Sarah Leyland, says: “Pain relieving drugs – and even the stronger ones – can be important treatments to help with pain after a spinal fracture or other broken bones. However, drug treatments need to be properly monitored by doctors and gradually reduced once the bones have healed and as pain improves. It’s also important that other practical non-drug approaches are also considered.”

Find out more about managing pain