CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Overusing opioids has become a public health crisis. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, and prescription opioids contribute to 35 percent of those deaths. Doctors at Rush University Medical Center have found a way to treat pain without relying heavily on narcotics, opioid-free pain relief.
Quinten Jackson’s career in law enforcement took a sudden turn when he seriously hurt himself loading a bulky investigation kit.
“I picked it up, turned, twisted, put it in the trunk. I felt a snap in my back,” Jackson recalled.
Jackson had a herniated disc. The disc was pressing on spinal nerves, causing severe pain.
“Due to my background in the law enforcement, I didn’t want any narcotic type medicine,” Jackson shared.
Kern Singh, MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center told Ivanhoe, “We used to get into the belief that if they still had pain with narcotics to give them more narcotics. And what we realized is there are different types of pain that are treated effectively with non-narcotic medication depending upon what patient’s experiencing.”
Doctors at Rush University have developed a strategy of using what’s known as multimodal analgesia, or MMA. In a new study, researchers found that using oral acetaminophen and gabapentin a medication used to relieve nerve pain, as well as an IV acetaminophen during surgery was safer and more effective than conventional methods of pain relief, including opioids.
“The vast majority of patients that we treat want to be narcotic free. And they want to be active and they want to be to a point that they don’t need medication quickly after surgery,” Dr. Singh explained.
Since Dr. Singh used only a small dosage of the narcotic morphine before and during surgery, Quinten was able to go home the same day.
“I didn’t have to depend on the medicine or depend on any outside factors other than me getting better,” Jackson expressed.
Now Quentin is back to doing what he loves … playing ball with his kids.
Dr. Singh says pain medications not only have side effects like shortness of breath and bowel and constipation issues, they also lead to increased medical costs and longer hospital stays. He hopes patients across the country advise their physicians to start using the program.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Addlyn Teague, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: OPIOID-FREE PAIN RELIEF: MMA
REPORT: MB #4795
BACKGROUND: Opioid addiction includes prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. It is a national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. Just under 30 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and about 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year. This includes costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
WHY ADDICTION AND HOW TO AVOID IT: Opioids make your brain and body believe you need the drug for survival. As your body begins to tolerate the dose you’re taking, you then feel you need even more medication to relieve the pain, which can lead to dependency. Addiction takes hold of our brains in many ways and is far more complex and less forgiving than people realize. A few signs of addiction may be spending time alone and avoiding time with family and friends; being very tired and sad; sleeping at odd hours; or experiencing financial hardship. It is vital to talk to a physician anesthesiologist or pain medicine specialist about using them safely and exploring alternative options. Learn to work with your physician to use opioids more wisely and safely and explore any pain management alternatives that might work for you.
SUCCES WITH MULTIMODAL ANALGESIA: Multimodal analgesia is the use of several classes of analgesics with varying mechanisms of action combined to improve pain control, decrease dependency on opioids, and reduce side effects associated with each class. Consistency and standardization are important when implementing a multimodal analgesia pathway for a particular surgery. Standardization based on evidence allows for the largest number of patients to receive the best treatments available. The need for effective alternatives to opioids has never been greater than now, in the current health care situation. A study found that the risk for taking opioids chronically was increased in surgical patients compared with those not undergoing surgery.
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