Major ONSF Research Project Announced – Unraveling the Opioid Epidemic in Teens and Athletes

In 2017 ONSF will attempt to unravel some of this country’s opioid epidemic with specific emphasis on reducing and eventually eliminating the use of narcotics postoperatively in teens and athletes. The Institutional Review Board at Greenwich Hospital has approved this study.

At the recent ONSF Medical Education Conference, Dr. Paul Sethi described in detail the current over use of opioids after surgery. Currently, prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are prescribed to surgical patients in large quantities to ensure that the patient does not experience serious post-operative pain. The problem is that not all pills are used and the leftover pills frequently end up in the hands of vulnerable individuals leading to addiction and in some cases death. According to a recent press release, however, orthopedic surgeons are using a new pain-relieving method that helps reduce or eliminate a patient’s need for opioids while at the same time controlling the post-operative pain.

While addressing the Conference attendees, Dr. Sethi said, “It is frightening, as a surgeon, to think that an opioid prescription intended to help a patient recover could lead to a lifelong battle with addiction or death…” He went on to explain that in some cases young people and athletes would rather suffer the pain than take the opioids. Currently, orthopedic surgeons at ONS are utilizing a “slow release analgesic.” The drug administered at the surgical site has proven to help eliminate the use of opioids and narcotics postoperatively. Patients have reported a faster, low pain recovery. After rotator cuff surgery, one patient said, “I am the happiest person in the world. I had surgery on Thursday and I was out walking the dog that same day.”

Physicians have high expectations, and are cautiously optimistic, that slow release analgesic drugs and those that result from high caliber research will make a major difference in the treatment of post-operative pain and have the capability to reduce or eliminate the use of narcotics.