Send to

Choose Destination
Pain Med. 2013 Aug;14(8):1187-91. doi: 10.1111/pme.12135. Epub 2013 May 3.

Acute pain control challenges with buprenorphine/naloxone therapy in a patient with compartment syndrome secondary to McArdle's disease: a case report and review.

Author information

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Northwestern McGaw Medical Center, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



We report the first case of non-iatrogentic exertional rhabdomyolysis leading to acute compartment syndrome in a patient with McArdle's disease. We describe considerations of concurrent buprenorphine/naloxone therapy during episodes of severe acute pain.


Case report.


A 50-year-old male with a history of McArdle's disease, taking buprenorphine/naloxone for chronic pain and opioid dependence, presented to the Emergency Department with severe bilateral anterior thigh pain. Over the following 8 hours, he was given a total of 12 mg of intravenous hydromorphone with minimal pain relief. The decision was made to initiate patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) with hydromorphone started at 0.5 mg as needed with a 15-minute lockout. Subsequently, the patient's anterior thighs were found to be extremely tense. His creatine kinase level rose to 198,688 units/L and compartment pressures were greater than 90 mm Hg bilaterally. The patient was taken for emergent bilateral fasciotomies. The hydromorphone PCA was increased to 0.8 mg as needed with a 15-minute lockout and a basal rate of 0.5 mg/h. The patient's reported pain plateaued at 3/10 intensity 2 days after surgery, and he was transitioned to oxycodone and hydrocodone/acetaminophen. He followed up with his pain management physician 2 months later who restarted suboxone and a buphrenorphine transdermal patch.


Buprenorphine/naloxone is being prescribed off-label with increasing frequency for pain management in patients with or without a history of opioid abuse. Severe acute pain is more difficult to control with opioid analgesics in patients taking buprenorphine/naloxone, requiring higher than usual doses. If buprenorphine/naloxone is discontinued to better treat acute pain with other opioids, monitoring for overdose must take place for at least 72 hours.


Buprenorphine/Naloxone; Compartment Syndrome; McArdle's Disease; Rhabdomyolysis; Suboxone

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center