Opioid-free pain relief

Health Watch

Overusing opioids has become a public health crisis. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, and prescription opioids contribute to 35 percent of those deaths. Doctors at Rush University Medical Center have found a way to treat pain without relying heavily on narcotics.

Quinten Jackson’s career in law enforcement took a sudden turn when he seriously hurt himself loading a bulky investigation kit.

“I picked it up, turned, twisted, put it in the trunk. I felt a snap in my back,” Jackson recalled.

Jackson had a herniated disc. The disc was pressing on spinal nerves, causing severe pain.

“Due to my background in the law enforcement, I didn’t want any narcotic type medicine,” Jackson shared.

Kern Singh, MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center told Ivanhoe, “We used to get into the belief that if they still had pain with narcotics to give them more narcotics. And what we realized is there are different types of pain that are treated effectively with non-narcotic medication depending upon what patient’s experiencing.”

Doctors at Rush University have developed a strategy of using what’s known as multimodal analgesia, or MMA. In a new study, researchers found that using oral acetaminophen and gabapentin a medication used to relieve nerve pain, as well as an IV acetaminophen during surgery was safer and more effective than conventional methods of pain relief, including opioids.

“The vast majority of patients that we treat want to be narcotic free. And they want to be active and they want to be to a point that they don’t need medication quickly after surgery,” Dr. Singh explained.

Since Dr. Singh used only a small dosage of the narcotic morphine before and during surgery, Quinten was able to go home the same day.

“I didn’t have to depend on the medicine or depend on any outside factors other than me getting better,” Jackson expressed.

Now Quentin is back to doing what he loves … playing ball with his kids.

Dr. Singh says pain medications not only have side effects like shortness of breath and bowel and constipation issues, they also lead to increased medical costs and longer hospital stays. He hopes patients across the country advise their physicians to start using the program.

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