Tapentadol versus tramadol in the management of low back pain in the emergency department: Impact of use on the need for reassessments

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Nontraumatic musculoskeletal disorders are the main reason for presentation to the emergency department (ED), with rachialgia (back pain) being the most common reason to request medical assessment among them. This also generates the highest demand for reassessments due to poor pain control or onset of adverse reactions to the treatment prescribed in the initial assessment.

A retrospective observational study based on usual clinical practice was conducted in patients attending the ED due to low back pain during a period of 24 months. The primary objective was to determine the demand for reassessments in the ED by these patients in the following 30 days, according to the type of therapeutic approach used in the initial assessment.

A total of 732 patients who requested medical assessment due to back pain in the ED of our hospital were analyzed, 91 of whom were treated with tapentadol whereas 641 received another treatment. In the first month after the initial assessment, reassessments were less common in the tapentadol group; this difference was significant from days 8 to 15 (P = 0.001, odds ratio [OR] 0.252 with 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.100–0.635) and days 15 to 30 (P < 10−4, OR 0.277 with 95% CI 0.136–0.563). Patients who received tapentadol also had a better clinical evolution of pain compared to those who did not receive it (P < 10−4) and to those who received tramadol (P < 10−4).

In this study in patients with back pain, tapentadol shows clear advantages over the other analgesics analyzed, in terms of pain control and less need for reassessments.

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