Multimodal pain management refers to approaching the issue of pain management with two or more different methods. One of the benefits to this course of action is that there may be a lesser need for opioids during and after surgery.
Doctor Brad Stahlheber is an anesthesiologist who was the Chief of Anesthesia at Muskogee Community Center in Oklahoma. His experience with pain management is extensive and he is now part of a specialized team working with patients who require complex back surgeries.
Dr. Stahlheber refers to the American Society of Anesthesiologists to point out that opioids are extremely effective, powerful drugs but they can cause many undesirable side effects. Treating patients’ pain using a variety of approaches has many benefits, not only in the level of pain but in post-surgery complications. For example, in one study, researchers found that patients undergoing total hip replacement who had multimodal pain management actually had 19 percent fewer respiratory complications, 26 percent fewer gastrointestinal complications and a 12 percent decrease in hospital length stay. These statistics were compared to patients receiving opioids alone.
Side Effects According to Brad Stahlheber
Side effects from opioids range from economic to adverse physical reactions including nausea, vomiting, constipation and the effects of drug-dependence. With increased opioid use, the burden on health care providers rises, hospital costs rise, and resources become strained. The harmful sociological effects of opioid dependence is also a viable concern. Steering patient care towards a path that has as little potentially harmful components is a solution health care providers try to provide and multimodal pain management is perhaps that path.
While many more studies need to be completed in order to understand the optimal treatments for the vast variety of procedures, the studies that have been done so far suggest that a multimodal approach is showing a positive outcome in patient’s pain management.
Opioids have taken the hot seat as of late, with terms like “opioid crisis” and “war on opioids” becoming a daily headline on many media outlets. It’s not just a scare tactic; opioid overdoses in 2017 jumped 7% from 2016. Also notable is this statistic is only reporting on the overdoses and not necessarily the misuse, which is another large statistic to consider.
Multimodal pain management isn’t just about avoiding opioids. Anesthesiologists such as Dr. Brad Stahlheber prefer to approach pain management on a personal level. Tailoring a pain-management solution to each patient is paramount. Not all patients are the same, but the results are easy to see that studies are finding great benefits to offering different forms of pain relief in conjunction with opioids.In fact, there are genetic influences which determine analgesic (pain killer) metabolism and pain sensitivity. This is why it is important to construct an individual multimodal pain management approach.