Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Medication

Updated: Feb 26, 2021
  • Author: Matthew Gammons, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Medication for ACL injuries mainly consists of analgesics. Preoperative drugs may include cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors and opioid analgesic agents. Postoperatively, the patient may obtain pain relief through nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid analgesics. NSAIDS have been shown to decrease bone formation in spine fusions and rotator cuff surgery. Although this has not been seen clinically in ACL reconstructions with bone-patella tendon-bone grafts, it is plausible to think that this may be the case. Therefore, long-term postoperative use may not be beneficial.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Class Summary

Have analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. Their mechanism of action is not known, but 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.

Ketorolac (Toradol)

Inhibits prostaglandin synthesis by decreasing the activity of the enzyme, cyclo-oxygenase, which results in decreased formation of prostaglandin precursors. Used in postoperative pain control.

Ketorolac intranasal (Sprix)

NSAID; inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX), an early component of the arachidonic acid cascade, resulting in reduced synthesis of prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and prostacyclin. Elicits anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects. Indicated for short-term (up to 5 d) management of moderate to moderately severe pain. Bioavailability of 31.5-mg intranasal dose (2 sprays) is approximately 60% of 30-mg IM dose. Intranasal spray delivers 15.75 mg per 100-µL spray; each 1.7-g bottle contains 8 sprays.


Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors

Class Summary

Although increased cost can be a negative factor, the incidence of costly and potentially fatal GI bleeds is clearly less with COX-2 inhibitors than with traditional NSAIDs. Ongoing analysis of cost avoidance of GI bleeds will further define the populations that will find COX-2 inhibitors the most beneficial.

Celecoxib (Celebrex)

Inhibits primarily COX-2. COX-2 is considered an inducible isoenzyme, induced during pain and inflammatory stimuli. Inhibition of COX-1 may contribute to NSAID GI toxicity. At therapeutic concentrations, COX-1 isoenzyme is not inhibited thus GI toxicity may be decreased. Seek lowest dose of celecoxib for each patient. Used for postoperative pain control.