Emergency Medicine Questions Emergency Physician

I have pain from a fractured shoulder humerus bone?

I fell and broke my shoulder 6 days ago. The emergency room gave me 10 Vicodin 5 mg. Four days ago I saw the orthopedist that was on call. I saw him in his office. He told me to take ibuprofen and Tylenol for the pain. I am in moderate to severe pain. He said "no" when I asked for pain medication. Is this reasonable?

Female | 66 years old
Complaint duration: 6days

4 Answers

Um ...well...I would have given you some pain medicine...but prescribing narcotics is individual--everyone has a certain threshold
I’m sorry to hear you’re in so much pain. Unfortunately with the opioid pandemic many physicians do not like to prescribe opioids. This leaves patients with real injuries like yourself not fully treated for their pain. The best thing to do is to get off of opioids as soon as possible but if you need them for a few more days After a serious fracture it is understandable.
The narcotics problem in our country is significant. If you are still in pain, and it is severe enough that it cannot be managed by ice and more over-the-counter medications, more narcotics may be necessary. Though you also need to appreciate that you will not be pain free. The medication is used to reduce your pain level.

Robert D. Swift, DO, FAOAO
Yes, using stronger pain medication could risk dependency and increase your risk of falling on an already injured shoulder. If you adjust the sling and maybe a pillow between your body and arm, it will stop the movement of the bone fragments, which is the cause of the pain. At about 4 weeks after injury, the pain should be a lot less as a cartilage bridge between fragments will form and the movement of fragments will be less.