Managing pain after non-opioid knee and shoulder surgery – Lowell Sun

By on February 12, 2022 0

ROCHESTER, Minn. – An opioid-free pain management regimen provided the same pain relief as common prescription opioids, according to two recent studies of common sports surgeries.

Opioids can help people manage pain, but they can be addictive. Nationally, opioid prescriptions rose from 76 million in 1990 to a peak of 255 million in 2012. Between 1990 and 2017, opioid-related deaths increased sixfold.

The challenge for surgeons is to minimize opioid use while optimizing patients’ pain control after surgery, said Dr. Kelechi Okoroha, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic and a specialist in sports medicine. Okoroha is the lead author of both studies.

Orthopedic and spinal conditions account for about three in 10 opioid prescriptions, so surgeons can significantly reduce opioid-related deaths by limiting opioid prescriptions, Okoroha said.

Researchers have created a pain management approach that eliminates opioids after common sports surgeries. In the first study, participants had undergone knee surgery to reconstruct their ACL. In the second study, participants had undergone surgery to repair the rotator cuff in their shoulder. All received a nerve block before surgery.

In each study, a group of participants received a standard regimen of opioids to manage pain. The other group participated in an opioid-free pain management approach. The nonopioid regimen included painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants.

Both studies found that the non-opioid regimen provided at least the same pain control and patient satisfaction, if not more, than the standard opioid regimen.

In both studies, the most common side effects were drowsiness, dizziness and gastrointestinal symptoms.

In the rotator cuff study, participants who received the nonopioid regimen reported slightly fewer side effects than those who received the opioid regimen.

Okoroha said the Mayo Clinic is working to limit opioids by providing patients with alternatives to traditional pain management.

“I think this is really game-changing research,” Okoroha said. “We have found it to be effective in common sports surgeries. So our plan is to implement it in more surgeries and hopefully reduce the burden of opioids globally.

This article was written for the Mayo Clinic News Network. Visit newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org. Distributed by content agency Tribune.