Best Life: No opiates needed

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 7:27 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - At one time, opioids were the primary source of pain relief for patients recovering from surgery.

They’re excellent pain relievers, but they have other side effects. These effects include itching, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and respiratory depression.

For some patients, those painkillers can be the start of a dangerous addiction.

One in five people, who have been prescribed opioids to manage pain from surgery, find themselves struggling to stop taking the drugs long after their physical recovery. Opioid addiction has been called a crisis. There’s now a shift away from opioid painkillers after a procedure.

Total joint replacement. Tummy tucks. Lung surgery.

“Those are at the top of my list of very painful procedures,” said Michelle Humeidan, MD Anesthesiologist Ohio state university.

Any surgery can be painful to recover from. Doctor Humeidan is a pain management expert at Ohio state. She’s leading an initiative to minimize opioids for pain relief. She says patients should start preparing before surgery by taking acetaminophen at home.

Pain relief before, during, and after surgery: no opiates needed?

“We kind of load that up in the system in the day or so before surgery, and then that helps us have to give fewer opiates for their pain control,” said Humeidan

During surgery, doctors use numbing medicine that blocks the pain transmission to the brain and spinal cord. Then after surgery, patients can take over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and use an anesthetic patc, like lidocaine.

“Other types of interventions like heat, ice, elevation – those types of things – those can’t be underestimated,” said Humeidan.

Humeidan says data shows non-opioid pain management results in less nausea and shorter hospital stays.

“Where we used to have patients that would require an overnight stay or two that are going home now after surgery,” said Humeidan.

Humeidan says hospital data shows a 50% reduction in opioid pain medication use among hospitalized patients and that reduction remains consistent for patients as they recover at home.

She says while opiates do have their role, it’s important that they be used as a backup, instead of first-line treatment.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.