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Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Focus: Alleviating Pain while Reducing Opioid Use

To help physicians safely and effectively alleviate pain and encourage optimal opioid stewardship in patients following surgery, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) last month released the Pain Alleviation Toolkit.  The toolkit provides physicians and patients with resources to encourage communication and decision-making to help reduce patients’ postoperative pain as much and as safely as possible.

“ASA is excited to work with the AAOS on safe and effective ways to manage postoperative pain, which can lead to patients’ reduced opioid use and reliance,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. “There are multiple ways we can manage pain and discomfort, including nerve blocks, over-the-counter medications and non-drug remedies such as physical therapy.  Physicians and their patients should work together to determine the most effective and safest course of pain management.  Conversations which the resources in this toolkit could help facilitate.”

Resources include:

• Guides to help physicians prepare

patients for the pain and discomfort experienced after surgery.

• Tips and strategies on how to implement routine preoperative patient screening tools to identify risk factors that may affect patients’ pain levels.

• Recommendations on the safe use, storage and disposal of opioids to limit diversion of unused opioids.

• Slides and scripts for physicians to help properly navigate conversations regarding patient recovery.

• Patient resources, including a downloadable tool for physicians and patients to document the pain management plan together.

Musculoskeletal diseases affect more than one out of every two persons in the United States age 18 and over.  Bone and joint conditions, injuries and surgeries can be painful.  As more orthopaedic procedures, including back surgeries and knee replacement, are performed in the United States, minimizing patients’ postoperative pain and discomfort safely and responsibly is an important goal of both orthopaedic care and anesthesiologists, physicians who specialize in pain management.

“It’s been a pleasure partnering with our colleagues at the ASA on the Pain Alleviation Toolkit to outline useful tips to help patients get as comfortable as possible safely after an injury or surgery,” said David Ring, M.D., Ph.D., AAOS Patient Safety Committee chair.  “This toolkit demonstrates that pain alleviation goes beyond medications.  It comes down to a trusting relationship and accompaniment, easy access to the care team, restoration of daily life, and maintenance of meaning and purpose.”

Information for this article was provided by the AAOS and ASA. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org.

To access the Pain Alleviation Toolkit, please visit asahq.org/pain-toolkit or aaos.org/

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