Strategies to manage surgical pain

Because addiction to pain pills often starts with an operation, surgeons are shifting to non-opioid approaches for pain control.

Published: February, 2019


Image: © Morsa Images/Getty Images

Many people who are struggling with opioid addiction didn't start taking the drugs at a party or at a friend's house. They were introduced to these painkilling medications by their doctor after a surgical procedure.

In the 1990s, the number of opioid prescriptions written for people undergoing surgery or experiencing pain conditions grew — and so did related problems. As a result, "we are in a current opioid epidemic, with 91 substance-related deaths each day, according to the CDC," says Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

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