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Steven J. Kern, MD

Managing Post-Operative Pain Without Using Opioids

June 3, 2019 | By Steven Kern, MD

Your surgery was a success, and you are well on your way to a complete recovery. But you’re experiencing normal postoperative pain. You want to reduce the pain, but you’re nervous about using opioids. We understand and can help.

We believe in providing our patients with the best possible care before, during and after surgery. While some pain is a natural part of the healing process, we want to help you minimize that pain as quickly and as safely as possible. Together, we will assess your pain level and find the best way to make you comfortable while you recover.

An article in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings states, “The advantages of effective postoperative pain management include patient comfort and therefore satisfaction, earlier mobilization, fewer pulmonary and cardiac complications, a reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis, faster recovery with less likelihood of the development of neuropathic pain, and reduced cost of care.”

Sometimes, post-surgical pain management begins before surgery. A healthy diet and exercise program before surgery can help you recover more quickly and reduce the level of pain medication you need after the operation. If you are having surgery to reduce or eliminate existing pain, we might recommend that you taper off your pain medication prior to surgery. Studies show that patients who aren’t taking medications before surgery are less likely to need opioids after surgery.

While there is a place for opioids in postoperative pain management, especially after major surgery, we recognize the negative effects of long-term opioid use, including addiction and death. We don’t send our patients home with more opioids than we think they will need for two or three days, and we always look for a combination of alternative medications that work just as well, such as intravenous NSAIDs, physical therapy, postoperative nerve blocks and a variety of non-opioid medications.

We want to work closely with you to manage your pain. Fortunately, new medications, as well as advances in surgical techniques, including robotic surgery, are making pain management without opioids much more successful.

If you are experiencing postoperative pain, please talk with us about how to manage that pain in the safest way possible.