CLEVELAND, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Recovering from abdominal surgery is tough. It takes the average person at least six weeks to get back to work. Now, there’s a new way to manage pain and get patients back to work much faster. The CDC said prescription opioid overuse for pain management costs the U.S. at least $78 billion a year.
Steve Milton loves doting on his garden and his dog. But chronic, searing pain in his digestive tract almost kept him from doing either.
“I had a real difficult five months prior to my operation,” Milton explained.
Three ER visits. One hospitalization. Never-ending infections. Doctors put him on antibiotics for diverticulitis.
Milton continued, “They tried a variety of drugs. Actually, had bad reactions to one of the drugs and was hospitalized.”
Surgery was next with a new way to handle Milton’s pain afterwards.
“It prevents patients from developing post-operative pain. It accelerates their recovery so they’re in bed less and getting less postoperative complications,” said Mark Horattas, MD, Chair of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
A combination of pain blockers and local anesthetics are placed right next to the incision before surgery. And they last up to three days after the operation which reduces the need for opioids.
“Opioids were associated with problems with delayed bowel function,” stated Dr. Horattas.
The new approach cut the days in the hospital by more than half, and the use of morphine by 80 percent.
“They feel better, they’re happier and they have less pain,” explained Dr. Horattas.
Milton was up and walking around four hours after his surgery. Went home in two days. And was back at work Monday only taking Tylenol.
“I’m a new man from what was a real potential life-threatening situation,” smiled Milton.
According to Dr. Horattas, this recovery protocol can be used on all abdominal surgery patients and is being expanded to those going through breast surgery. He hopes to get the protocol approved for all surgeries that require the use of opioids.
Horattas said to talk to your doctor and anesthesiologist about how to manage your pain and prevent it. This is a very serious problem because nearly 30% of patients prescribed opioids for pain misuse them.
Contributors to this news report include: John Cherry and Keon Broadnax, Field Producers; and Roque Correa, Editor.