Pain relief before oral surgery has ‘little effect’ on postoperative pain

Research suggests providing pain relief before oral surgery has little effectResearch suggests pain relief before oral surgery makes little difference

Giving pain relief before oral surgery takes place has little effect on postoperative discomfort, claims a new study.

A literature review published in the current issue of the journal Anaesthesia Progress has concluded that preoperative pain relief does little to affect postoperative pain, facial oedema, and limited mouth opening.

The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in oral surgery is nothing new, with these drugs commonly being prescribed for postoperative pain. They are cheap, common, and effective, and help patients recover more quickly.

However, the findings in Anaesthesia Progress suggest the popular belief – that providing pain relief before oral surgery can reduce or prevent postoperative pain – is unfounded.

The article reviewed a number of studies carried out on patients who received surgery to treat impacted wisdom teeth.

The studies in question, carried out between 1989 and 2012, examined whether oral ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs, provided before surgery could reduce the pain felt later.

A wide variation in the results and methodology of these studies made it difficult to draw strong conclusions. Five types of painkillers were given, all at different times and in different dosages. Other factors, such as anesthesia use and evaluation methods, were also inconsistent across the group of studies.

However, the current researchers were clear that no great improvements in pain relief could be found for any drugs given before surgery took place.

The authors concluded that further careful clinical trials are needed before more solid information can be found on the use of pain relief before oral surgery.

The full article, titled ‘Does the Preemptive Use of Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs Reduce Postoperative Pain in Surgical Removal of Third Molars? A Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials’ appears in the summer issue of Anaesthesia Progress, and is available here.


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