Acute Compartment Syndrome Medication

Updated: Apr 01, 2022
  • Author: Abraham T Rasul, Jr, MD, FAAPMR, FCCP; Chief Editor: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Opioids, nonopioids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used for pain management in compartment syndrome. [89] Side effects and patient profiles should be considered when choosing medications. Acetaminophen can result in liver damage. Narcotics can produce gastrointestinal distress, constipation, and sedation, and they have addictive potential. NSAIDs can result in gastrointestinal upset, gastrointestinal bleeding, renal damage, and impaired coagulation.


Analgesics, Other

Class Summary

Pain control is essential to quality patient care. Analgesics ensure patient comfort, and some have sedating properties, which are beneficial for patients who have sustained trauma or injuries.

Acetaminophen (Acephen, Cefaten, Mapap, Tylenol, FeverAll, Aspirin Free Anacin)

Acetaminophen is the drug of choice for pain in patients with documented hypersensitivity to aspirin or NSAIDs, those with upper GI disease, and those who are taking oral anticoagulants.


Opioid Analgesics

Class Summary

These medications provide control of moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Zolvit)

This drug combination is indicated for moderate to severe pain.

Acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol-3)

This drug combination is indicated for treatment of mild to moderate pain.


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Class Summary

NSAIDs have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic activities. Their mechanism of action is not known, but they may inhibit cyclooxygenase activity and prostaglandin synthesis. Other mechanisms may exist as well, such as inhibition of leukotriene synthesis, lysosomal enzyme release, lipoxygenase activity, neutrophil aggregation, and various cell membrane functions.

Naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve, Naprelan, Anaprox)

Naproxen is indicated for relief of mild to moderate pain. It inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing activity of cyclooxygenase, which results in a decrease of prostaglandin synthesis.

Celecoxib (Celebrex)

Celecoxib inhibits primarily cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). COX-2 is considered an inducible isoenzyme; it is induced during pain and inflammatory stimuli. Inhibition of COX-1 may contribute to NSAID GI toxicity. At therapeutic concentrations, celecoxib does not inhibit the COX-1 isoenzyme; thus GI toxicity may be decreased. The increased cost of celecoxib must be weighed against the benefit of avoidance of GI bleeds. Seek the lowest dose of celecoxib for each patient.

Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, Cambia, Zipsor)

These nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit prostaglandin synthesis by decreasing cyclooxygenase activity, decreasing formation of prostaglandin precursors.


Ketorolac is an intravenously administered NSAID and a very powerful analgesic. It inhibits prostaglandin synthesis by decreasing activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which results in decreased formation of prostaglandin precursors. In turn, this results in reduced inflammation.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Caldolor)

Ibuprofen is usually the drug of choice for treatment of mild to moderate pain, if no contraindications exist. It inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing the activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, resulting in inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis.