Reducing patient dependence on opioids after surgery
The Palm Beach Post’s “Ask the Expert” column features Ryan W. Simovitch, MD sports medicine surgeon at HSS Florida, discussing pain management techniques available to maximize recovery and minimize pain following rotator cuff repairs and shoulder replacements.
Dr. Simovitch explained opioids are still prescribed to control pain, however much has changed over the last two years. Surgeons have made a concerted effort to minimize and sometimes eliminate the use of opioids after surgery because of the serious side effects and unanticipated consequences of prolonged opioid usage after surgery. In place of opioids, surgeons will now often use multimodal anesthesia. For example, prescribing acetaminophen alongside an anti-inflammatory medication can mitigate pain when used in conjunction with nerve blocks. Ice is also an important aspect of pain control. Nerve blocks historically helped for the first eight to 16 hours after surgery, but when they ceased to work (when the numbing medication wore off), patients would frequently have severe rebound shoulder pain.
Dr. Simovitch continued to say at HSS Florida there is a commitment to increasing the use of multimodal anesthesia and nerve blocks for shoulder surgery as alternatives to opioids, and have yielded very positive results.
This article appeared in the print edition on January 31, 2021.