How to manage postoperative pain without Opioids / Drugs?
Apain-free recovery from surgery certainly sounds appealing, but where should doctors draw the line when prescribing opioids?
Should a patient being discharged after minimally invasive outpatient surgery be prescribed the same number of painkillers as someone who underwent a total knee replacement?
Are there an alternative, non-opioid treatments that could replace these addictive compounds?
As opioid addiction reaches epidemic proportions in the U.S, killing approximately 130 people each day, doctors are increasingly asking these questions.
Studies routinely point to postoperative surgical opioid use as a gateway to overuse and addiction.
With about 50 million surgeries performed each year, including invasive and non-invasive procedures, about 80% of patients are prescribed opioids to manage pain.
Some 2.6 million of them become persistent, long-term users of opioids, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery by Brummet et al. In a separate study published in JAMA Surgery, many surgeons were found to overprescribe opioid painkillers to patients by four times the necessary amount.
Alternative to Opioids
Using pain relief devices can reportedly drastically reduce or eliminate a patient’s need for pain medication, particularly powerful opioids.
Many studies have found that TENS pain relief device is useful in easing pain after surgery, as well as pain related to injuries, such as fractures and sprains.
TENS unit may also be helpful for some chronic pain conditions, particularly low back pain.
Electrotherapy TENS is generally considered safe.
TENS is a small device with electrodes that send stimulating pulses along nerve strands and across the skin’s surface.
These impulses help to reduce pain by encouraging the body to produce more endorphins, which act as a natural painkiller.
Also, the electrical impulses can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles.