Addicting Opioid Painkillers May Not Be Necessary After Knee Surgery

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According to recent research, people who have had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee surgery should not rely only on opioid drugs. As opioid use and drug overdose deaths continue to rise in the United States, these findings may be a welcome relief.

It seems that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and muscle relaxants may give the same degree of pain management as prescription opioids like morphine and hydrocodone following ACL surgery.

Addicting Opioid Painkillers May Not Be Necessary After Knee Surgery

Opioid painkillers may be beneficial in treating severe pain, according to a co-author of the study. He is an orthopedic surgeon and sports injury expert at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. In contrast, Okoroha points out that opioids may become addictive if used over a lengthy period of time.

Addicting Opioid Painkillers May Not Be Necessary After Knee Surgery

When taken in excess, opioids may induce tiredness, confusion, lowering of the respiratory rate, and even death if administered incorrectly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted last month that 100,000 drug-related deaths would take place between April 2020 and April 2021 in the United States. This is a 30% increase over last year’s numbers. A majority of these deaths were attributed to opioid use alone, according to the data.

Prescription painkiller use after surgery may lead to opioid addiction in many individuals. According to the research team’s background notes, nearly 28 percent of all opioid prescriptions made in the United States come from orthopedic and spine illnesses. This has led doctors to explore new methods to reduce discomfort after surgery.

According to Okoroha, “knee surgery may produce tremendous degrees of agony,” as is the case with many ACL surgeries. According to the latest findings in pain management, we may be able to reduce or eliminate the requirement for opioids with appropriate multimodal therapy, he said. In the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the findings were recently published and can be found there. Patients who had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery between February 2019 and January 2020 were included in the study.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and muscle relaxants were given to all patients after surgery. Measurement of pain levels was done 10 days after the beginning of pain treatment and compared to the pain levels of 28 other patients who were also taking an opioid medicine. Even after accounting for factors like age, gender, and body mass index, they found that pain relief was identical in both groups. There were also no significant differences in side effects (including addiction risk) (a standard indicator of obesity status).

According to a non-Okoroha study team member, the findings were not unexpected. Drugs weren’t the only component of such treatment. According to Katz, automatic cold compresses around the surgical site provided the most relief for Katz’s patients.

Nonetheless, Katz expressed some reservations about the method used in this study. Using a gentle massage may be acceptable while the wound heals. A truly “multimodal” approach to pain management does not rely just on a variety of pharmaceuticals for treatment. He thinks it should also include successful non-pharmaceutical methods.