What are Opioid-Sparing Techniques?

Opioid-sparing techniques are part of a whole treatment philosophy which aims to reduce the amount of opioid pain medication required to treat injuries and other painful conditions. Opioid-sparing surgery applies this philosophy to surgical pain management.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of prescription pain medicines which are commonly prescribed to treat pain from injuries or surgeries. Unfortunately, these medications can cause addiction and a multitude of unpleasant side-effects (nausea, constipation, itching). They also tend to lose their effectiveness in treating pain over time, thus requiring higher and higher doses to achieve the same original effect. No doubt you have heard about our national opioid crisis in the news, or perhaps have even had a loved one affected by it.

What are some Opioid-Sparing strategies?

While opioid-sparing techniques may not eliminate the need for opioids, we make every effort to reduce opioid use. Education is a key initial component to reducing opioid consumption. Simply understanding the risks of opioids, many patients will choose to take less or none at all and be more vigilant for signs of addiction. There are some alternatives to opioids which can be used including Tylenol, NSAIDs, and topical compounds which are not addictive but do have their own side effects to consider. Minimally invasive surgical techniques have the benefit of less pain and more rapid recovery. Anesthesia techniques like long-acting local or regional block numbing can significantly reduce the need for opioids. When opioids are required after surgery, careful monitoring of prescription refills can help to reduce the risk for addiction. Referral to a pain management specialist or psychiatrist is sometimes needed for patients with chronic pain, as we only prescribe opioids for a limited period around the time of surgery or injury.

Ready to confirm a diagnosis and fix the problem or just want to learn more?

Our board-certified orthopedic hand and wrist surgeons Eric Angermeier, MD and Kyle Kokko, MD, PhD, are here to help! They can often diagnose the problem in one visit, and get you started with a treatment plan. We offer a wide variety of both nonoperative and operative treatment options.

Call today for a clinic or telehealth appointment! 854-429-4263