29 October, 2014

What is the best pain treatment for scorpion stings?

Scorpion stings are often very painful due to the neurotoxic nature of the venom. Aksel and co-workers have now published a RCT study comparing the pain reducing effects of paracetamol, topical lidocaine and application of ice. The winner is lidocaine.

It is important to note that this study only looked into pain in patients with nonsystemic signs and symptoms!

Objective: Appropriate treatment for scorpion-associated pain was not previously studied in detail in the literature. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of three treatment modalities in patients with painful scorpion stings using visual analog scale (VAS) scores.
Materials and Methods: A randomized study was carried out during a 1-year period in patients with scorpion stings who did not have any systemic signs or symptoms. Patients were treated with intravenous paracetamol, topical lidocaine, or ice application. Pain intensity was evaluated using VAS score at the time of presentation to emergency department and at 30th, 60th, 120th, and 240th minutes. Changes in VAS scores from baseline were recorded.
Results: A total of 130 patients were included in the statistical analysis. Significant reduction in pain intensity was observed with topical lidocaine group when compared with the ice application group (p < 0.001) and paracetamol group (p < 0.001) in all selected time intervals. The median reduction in scores at 30 min after therapeutic intervention was 25.0 mm for topical lidocaine, 14.5 mm for ice application, and 10.0 mm for intravenous paracetamol. No adverse events were reported.
Discussion: Our results revealed that topical lidocaine is superior to both intravenous paracetamol and local ice application and its effect lasts several hours after envenomation.

Conclusion: Topical lidocaine is an effective and safe treatment in scorpion sting associated with pain in patients with nonsystemic signs and symptoms.

Aksel G, Guler S, Dogan N, Corbacioglu S. A randomized trial comparing intravenous paracetamol, topical lidocaine, and ice application for treatment of pain associated with scorpion stings. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2014 Oct 10. [Subscription required for full text]

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