Opioid medications can play an important role in managing pain after surgery. However, with the opioid epidemic that’s sweeping the nation, healthcare providers are using new approaches, including minimally invasive surgery, to reduce the need for prescription pain medications.
650,000 opioid prescriptions written each day*
10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018*
130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses**
Balancing pain relief with function
Despite the potential dangers, Dr. Amini says there is a time and place for prescription narcotics like methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
“If a person is in a lot of pain and they’re not eating, not walking and so on, that’s counter-productive to the recovery process,” he notes. “However, if they’re taking narcotics and end up sleeping all the time, then that’s not proper healing either. Ideally, the goal is to appropriately control pain in a manner that enables the patient to still do things and function.”
Dr. Amini says there isn’t an ideal number on the pain scale that dictates whether prescription opioids are necessary. It’s based on the individual needs and circumstances of each patient. What holds true across the board is that the sooner a patient can get off prescription pain medication, the less likely they are to develop a dependence.
In addition to the risk of opioid dependence or addiction, prescription narcotics come with a range of side effects. Even when taken properly under the direction of a physician, these drugs can result in constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, depression, itching, sweating, and more.
*U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
** According to recent studies