Pain Relief in Labor: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Intramuscular Tramadol with Intramuscular Paracetamol at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria
Background: Labor is considered to be one of the most painful experiences in life. Several efforts have been made over the years, particularly in the developed world, to relieve pain in labor. Unfortunately, the same attention has not been given to obstetric analgesia in most of Africa.
Aim: To compare the analgesic efficacy, patient satisfaction, and side effects of intramuscular tramadol and paracetamol as pain relief among women in labor at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: This was a prospective double‑blind randomized controlled trial that recruited 142 parturients into two groups of 71 women. One group received intramuscular 600 mg paracetamol and the other 100 mg tramadol at recruitment with rescue dose at least 3 h apart. Maternal vital signs were monitored and labor pain was assessed using the numerical rating scale. Neonatal conditions were assessed by the use of APGAR scoring system and the need for admission into the Special Care Baby Unit. The parturients overall satisfaction with the analgesia were assessed 24 h postpartum.
Results: The sociodemographic characteristics of the pregnant women in the two groups were similar, with the mean ages being 30.89 ± 3.50 and 30.93 ± 3.82 years, respectively. The study showed that intramuscular paracetamol was as effective as intramuscular tramadol for providing moderate pain relief during active phase of labor. Neither drug caused significant changes in maternal vital signs, with favorable neonatal outcome and good safety profile.
Conclusions: This study showed that 600 mg intramuscular paracetamol provides similar and modest pain relief in labor when compared to 100 mg intramuscular tramadol. It also has fewer maternal adverse effects and favorable neonatal outcome such as tramadol. It is concluded that intramuscular paracetamol is simple, cost‑effective, readily available, and feasible option as labor analgesics, especially for resource poor settings.
Key words: Labor; numerical rating scale; pain; paracetamol; tramadol.