Research is essential in the fight against the nation’s growing opioid addiction crisis. As they say, “knowledge is power” and in this case, we’ve got knowledge about the surgeries which have seen the strongest connection to painkiller dependencies. The New York Daily News published an insightful story on the stats, which have put knee replacements and colectomies at the top of the list.
The Daily News‘ research pointed out two significant facts when relating the data. On the one hand, this rise has been seen because of the intense amount of pain following these particular surgeries. And on the other, these tend to be the procedures where opioids are most over-prescribed.
Truth be told, it is very difficult for a doctor to know just how much medication is needed after an intense surgery. Certain people may react differently and require stronger dosages of pain pills. But it is important that they’re all aware of the risks that have been posed after these patients leave the operating room.
According to The Daily News, colectomies (where parts of the colon are removed) have seen 18 percent of patients become long-time opioid users. Knee replacement patients are a close second, with a 17 percent opioid addiction rate. Those are followed by hernia and hysterectomy recoveries, which have both seen a 7 percent opioid misuse rate.
The article then went on to list the overarching stats, which were not too pleasant to read. Their research showed at least 1 in every 10 post-op patients find themselves dependent on opioids. Anesthesiologist Dr. Eric Sun told the site that there are currently no easy answers when it comes to relieving a patient’s pain.
“The bigger the incision, the more painful something ought to be,” he explained. “From my experience, knee surgeries tend to be the most painful, with constant complaints following the surgeries.”
“There’s a lot of other things you can give that can help, but at the end of the day, if someone is in a lot of pain, opioids are part of the mainstay,” Sun added. “That’s sort of the next phase in all this research. We know there’s a problem. The question is: What do you do about it? How do you keep these people from transitioning to long-term use?”
Obviously holding back on medication could be considered cruel for someone who has just undergone a serious procedure. But as many of our past articles have shown, there are alternative prescriptions for treating pain; which have been shown to be far less addictive than opioids.
Hopefully by educating readers about these particular procedures (like colectomies and knee replacements), we can at least prepare them and build awareness about he continued dangers that arise after getting off the operating table.