Letter: An option to opiods
May 12, 2018
I recently saw a letter to the editor in a national newspaper regarding the need for more "opioid sparing physicians." It hit a strong note with me. I was fortunate when I recently had a total knee replacement to have just such a pair of physicians. My orthopedic surgeon and anesthesiologist teamed up to provide me with a system that delivered a block to the nerve that went to my knee area.
Before surgery, the anesthesiologist inserted a line from a contraption called the On-Q pump. The block lasted five days. During that time I was able to walk and do range-of-motion exercises without pain. After surgery, the only pain I had was where they put the tourniquet above my knee and some muscle cramping. This was managed with Tylenol.
I went home with the block in place — walking and moving my knee. I was at normal range of motion within a week of surgery. I took no opioids, and I cried with gratitude at my first post-op visit.
I have had many friends who have had knee replacements. I had been anticipating a painful 6-8 weeks. I believe that the reason for my speedy and pain free recovery was due to the foresight of my physician. He has always been one who had taken care with prescribing narcotics. This block is a way to avoid the need for opioid pain medications at all.
There is a real concern about going from prescription pain medication to dependence and possibly to illegal drugs. In my opinion this is a way to prevent this progression. To quote the letter in the newspaper, "research indicates that one in 15 of over 70 million patients who receive opioids will go on to long-term use."
I will be forever grateful to Dr. Robert Adams and Dr. Seth Livingston for their thoughtful care.
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