March 27, 2017

Proper pain medication post-surgery

Health Tips

Dr. Eric Monesmith explains how he prescribes proper pain medication post-surgery to avoid addiction.

My practice is implementing testing to properly administer pain medications while a patient is in the hospital. The opioid abuse epidemic has been a hot topic in the news. Both prescription and illicit opioid abuse has resulted in increasing numbers of overdose deaths each day across our great country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999. This blog is too short to delve into the history and causes of this epidemic, but I wanted to share how my practice is prescribing pain medicine post-surgery to prevent opioid dependency.

Preventing opioid dependency

For several years now I have been using genetic testing for my major joint replacement patients as a way to determine how to best prescribe narcotic medications after surgery. This type of testing gives us information about a person’s metabolic handling of narcotic medications used to treat post-surgical pain, as well as how their pain receptors function.

Using this data, we developed a personalize approach to each patient after surgery. We have been tracking pain and narcotic consumption data for past two years and I can report that we have definitely made a difference.

Armed with this knowledge, we have been able to show significant reductions in pain and narcotic usage for patients in the hospital who underwent testing.

Results

Although I can’t prove it yet, I am confident patients need pain medications for less time after surgery once they go home and have less narcotic-related side effects. This helps avoid narcotic dependency and possible addiction. It may not be the whole answer, but I believe it’s one piece of the puzzle.

If you or someone you know suffers from an opioid addiction, treatment is available to save lives. Please visit hhs.gov/opioids for more information.

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