This national public health emergency affects millions of Americans. The amount of opioids prescribed tripled between 1999 and 2015, and it’s now recognized that these medications, though quite effective for some types of pain, pose serious risks. Along with dependence and addiction, users may also experience a lesser-known adverse effect that can actually increase the amount of pain they feel (a condition called opioid-induced hyperalgesia).
The consequences have been devastating. In 2016 more than 11 million people reported misusing prescribed opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine, many of them by taking a friend’s or relative’s pills to relieve pain. Heroin and now fentanyl use has soared in recent years as opioid overprescribing was reduced. More than 2 million people have developed an opioid use disorder with 115 people dying every day from an overdose.
At HSS, our clinicians are committed to managing postsurgical and chronic pain safely and effectively, while working with patients to minimize the risks of opioid use. Our surgeons and anesthesiologists are experts in employing a variety of pain-management treatments, including multimodal approaches that combine non-opioid pain medications with therapies such as nerve blocks given by injection or catheter. When possible, our clinicians seek to reduce or eliminate patients’ exposure to opioid pain medications.
As a surgical patient at HSS you receive a preoperative screening, in which your clinical team determines the best pain-management approach for your recovery. Learn about opioids and your recovery and about disposal of unused opioid pills. More educational resources including articles, blogs and videos are featured below.
If you or someone you know struggles with opioids, please reach out for help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information helpline (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Managing Narcotics and Opioids for Chronic Pain (en Español)
In this Facebook Live video, Seth Waldman, MD, Director of the HSS Division of Pain Management, discusses the opioid health crisis in the historical context of pain management over the past few decades and key opioid side effects, such as tolerance and addiction.
Pediatric orthopedist Dr. Shevaun Doyle and anesthesiologist Dr. Kate DelPizzo discuss how HSS reduces the need for opioids during and after surgery in children.
In this Facebook Live video, sports medicine physician Dr. Jo Hannafin and anesthesiologist Dr. Kanupriya Kumar discuss how to manage postsurgical pain while avoiding health risks associated with narcotic pain medications (opioids).