This post is sponsored by Pacira and SheKnows Media.
In January, BlogHer hosted their first BlogHer Health conference for for women influencers. The lineup highlighted mental disorders (my jam), migraine management, endometriosis, and a presentation from Pacira Pharmaceuticals entitled “The Operating Room: A Gateway to the Opioid Epidemic.” The message is a vital one and worth sharing, as it discussed how patients can be an advocate for their own health and can plan against pain.
This subject is topical to society, but to me, it has professional, political, and personal relevance. In the United States, approximately 250 million pain medication prescriptions are filled every year. Of these, 46 patients will die from an overdose every day. The issues are complex, but with the current spotlight shining on this cause and effect, there is hope.
As a physical therapist working most of my 40 years in sports medicine, I am familiar with the glut of analgesics that my high school and college athletes come home with post-operatively. In my practice, it is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgeries that create significant pain both in the hospital and during rehabilitation. Though we immediately employ modalities such as cold, electrical stimulation, and massage for pain remediation, the allure of those pills is strong.
You have read my many postings about my son, who after working in the U. S. House of Representatives Majority Leader’s office, recently started his position with the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Health. In last month’s hearing on the opioid crisis, several physician leaders advocated strongly for increased funding for pain amelioration alternatives. Such as physical therapy!
You may also have been subjected to the tales of my fall this past September. I went from running (literally) to a bed in a Florida Hospital. There, I was given a diagnosis of pelvic and sacral fracture, and the offer of IV morphine. Morphine! When I refused that, I was offered Percocet. Percocet! I declined that as well, and left the hospital with a prescription for ibuprofen. And a walker.
These anecdotes illustrate just a few of the many challenges those in pain face every day. The physicians who care for them now understand the struggle; refusing a patient who is suffering from intractable pain is also not a reasonable choice.
- With an estimated 3 million surgery patients becoming long-term opioid users in 2016 alone, Pacira hopes to educate women on the importance of effective non-opioid options that can manage post-surgical pain and decrease the amount of opioid prescription after common procedures, including wisdom tooth extraction, common orthopedic procedures and plastic surgery. They hope to educate and empower patients and caregivers to speak with their surgeons about the volume of opioids prescribed following surgery and the availability of non-opioid options to manage post-surgical pain.
- There are safe and effective non-opioid options available for pain management following surgery.
- Surgery has become an inadvertent gateway to the opioid epidemic – nearly 1 in 15 patients become dependent following surgery.
- Women receive twice as many opioid prescriptions as men. There are non-opioid options out there.
- Middle age women are most at risk of dying from an opioid overdose, with women ages 40-59 being prescribed more than any other age group.
- According to a recent report, women ages 35-44 undergoing knee replacement surgery had the highest rate of persistent opioid use following surgery, at 22.8%.
- Following surgery, 13% of middle age women use opioids three to six months after surgery, placing them at risk for dependence and misuse.
- EXPAREL is a long-acting numbing medication injected during surgery that can control pain and limit the need for the use of opioids following surgery.
Having a solid post-operative alternative for the management of pain, such as EXPAREL, is a common-sense fix that is long overdue. A new solution to opioid abuse – “Plan Against Pain” – encourages you to be your own advocate and discuss pain management options with your surgeon prior to any procedures. By curbing therapeutic causes of addiction, physicians may now “do no harm.”