The CDC recently noted [cdc.gov] that approximately 90,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in September 2020, the highest number ever documented in a one-year period.1
As we are approaching Pain Awareness Month in September, it is a time to highlight the issues of postoperative pain and postoperative pain management in the United States. Recent data shows that 67% of patients filled an opioid prescription between 30 days before through 14 days after surgery.2 In the past, postoperative pain management has been a one-size-fits all approach and there is an urgent need for it to be more individualized.3
While patients routinely are searching for a safe and effective way to manage the pain they experience following surgery, many tell doctors they want to avoid the adverse effects that are commonly experienced by those receiving opioids to reduce their pain. The most common adverse effects are dizziness, nausea and constipation. But even more than that, patients want to avoid any risk of misuse and addiction.
Now there’s been a new development; what some surgeons are calling a “game-changer” for postoperative pain. The FDA recently approved a treatment that works on both inflammation and pain at the surgical site for up to 3 days for those who undergo bunion surgery, hernia repair and total knee replacement surgeries.4 Clinical trials have shown that this new treatment reduces the need for and can eliminate in many patients, potentially addictive opioids.5,6 The safety and efficacy of this new treatment has not been established in highly vascular surgeries, such as intrathoracic, large multilevel spinal, and head and neck procedures.4 The new treatment also contains an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), a type of medicine which:4
- can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death. This risk increases with higher doses and longer use of an NSAID.
- cannot be used during heart bypass surgery.
- can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, and tears.