Your Health: Trending away from opioids

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - One in five people who have been prescribed opioids for pain relief from surgery find themselves struggling to stop taking the drugs long after their physical recovery.

Total joint replacement, tummy tucks and lung surgery are some of the most painful procedures, but any surgery can be painful to recover from.

Ohio State University anesthesiologist Dr. Michelle Humeidan is leading an initiative to minimize opioids for pain relief. She said patients should start preparing before surgery by taking acetaminophen at home.

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

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 patch, like lidocaine.

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

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

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

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