Pain medication management of musculoskeletal conditions at first presentation in primary care: analysis of routinely collected medical record data

Article English OPEN
Ndlovu, Mehluli ; Bedson, John ; Jones, Peter W ; Jordan, Kelvin P (2014)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (vol: 15)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-418, pmc: PMC4295256
  • Subject: Research Article | Analgesia | Orthopedics and Sports Medicine | Primary health care | Musculoskeletal | Medical records | R1

Background Primary care pharmacological management of new musculoskeletal conditions is not consistent, despite guidelines which recommend prescribing basic analgesics before higher potency medications such as opioids or non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The objective was to describe pharmacological management of new musculoskeletal conditions and determine patient characteristics associated with type of medication prescribed. Methods The study was set within a UK general practice database, the Consultations in Primary Care Archive (CiPCA). Patients aged 15 plus who had consulted for a musculoskeletal condition in 2006 but without a musculoskeletal consultation or analgesic prescription in the previous 12 months were identified from 12 general practices. Analgesic prescriptions within two weeks of first consultation were identified. The association of socio-demographic and clinical factors with receiving any analgesic prescription, and with strength of analgesic, were evaluated. Results 3236 patients consulted for a new musculoskeletal problem. 42% received a prescribed pain medication at that time. Of these, 47% were prescribed an NSAID, 24% basic analgesics, 18% moderate strength analgesics, and 11% strong analgesics. Increasing age was associated with an analgesic prescription but reduced likelihood of a prescription of NSAIDs or strong analgesics. Those in less deprived areas were less likely than those in the most deprived areas to be prescribed analgesics (odds ratio 0.69; 95% CI 0.55, 0.86). Those without comorbidity were more likely to be prescribed NSAIDs (relative risk ratios (RRR) compared to basic analgesics 1.89; 95% CI 0.96, 3.73). Prescribing of stronger analgesics was related to prior history of analgesic medication (for example, moderate analgesics RRR 1.88; 95% CI 1.11, 3.10). Conclusion Over half of patients were not prescribed analgesia for a new episode of a musculoskeletal condition, but those that were often received NSAIDs. Analgesic choice appears multifactorial, but associations with age, comorbidity, and prior medication history suggest partial use of guidelines. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-418) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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