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Going Beyond Opioids

Updated: Feb 29

We work in the Operating Room. We've seen broken bones, ruptured organs, trauma, cancer, and infection. We've seen blades slice through skin, muscle, and fascia. We've cut, cauterized, removed, and repaired every part of the body. We've seen the blood, smelled all the smells, and we've dressed and wrapped every wound that was created or repaired while our patients were in our ORs.

We also know that pain is a byproduct of the work that we do. Most surgeries ultimately relieve pain, but in the short-term, discomfort still exists as our patients heal from their procedures. But one of the amazing things about our profession is that post-surgical pain can be managed effectively - often without the use of narcotics. Our specialty has benefitted from research and advocacy that is changing the way that we treat pain, and the long-held, engrained ideas of "how we've always done it" are slowly changing.

Advances in treatment options

The landscape is changing, and for that, I'm grateful. It's exciting to see the advances in treatment options and the alternative modalities that are available for patients - including virtual reality (VR), music therapy, and clinical aromatherapy. It's also encouraging to work alongside surgeons and anesthesia providers who champion the benefits of regional anesthesia and support ERAS protocols. These interventions are making a difference in the lives of our patients, while simultaneously combatting the current opioid crisis.

But there's still a long way to go...

Despite the advances in research and techniques, despite the education and advocacy, post-operative pain isn't always managed well. There are still those that hold to the idea that a patient can't get addicted to opioids if they are genuinely in pain. While research has debunked that idea, many of us were taught this as fact in medical/nursing school, and it's hard to undo the teachings that were engrained in us.

We also have to examine our own biases and prejudices toward pain. As providers we can become jaded or unsympathetic, and ignore or undertreat pain in certain patient populations. Instead, we need to educate ourselves on the many modalities available for managing pain, and work together with our patients to provide the best pain relief options for them.

Learn more in Season 11

The next season on the podcast is going to be tackling the topic of pain. We'll discuss the opioid crisis, the use and benefits of regional anesthesia, ERAS protocols, and a variety of alternative modalities for managing pain without medication. Narcotics aren't the answer. Education (for patients and providers) and embracing new methods and modalities for pain management are the keys to permanently changing the understanding and management of post-operative pain.

It's going to be a fantastic season, so tune in and learn alongside Chris and myself as we interview the experts.

Season 11: Going Beyond Opioids - starts Monday, April 1st. Don't miss it!

Until next time,



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