LincolnHealth using new pain medication to reduce need for opioids after surgery

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 7:15am

LincolnHealth is now offering a non-opioid pain medication, Exparel, after joint replacement surgeries. Exparel reduces and sometimes eliminates the need for opioids to avoid complications and to lessen the risk of addiction.

“Unlike opioids, which affect the whole body, Exparel only works in your body where you had surgery,” explained Lincoln Medical Partners Orthopedic Surgeon Rifat Zaidi, MD. Exparel slowly releases a local anesthetic medication called bupivacaine. This slow release provides patients with pain relief for up to 96 hours with just a single dose and reduces the need for opioids, he added.

The first LincolnHealth patient to use Exparel instead of opioid pain medications after a joint replacement was Anita Oberlander.

“I have had two knee replacement surgeries, both with Dr. Zaidi” commented Oberlander. “When he told me that I was going to need a hip replacement, I told him there was no way I would have the surgery if I had to take opioids again. They make me woozy and very confused.”

By 6 p.m. the day of her hip replacement, Anita was able to stand on her own with minimal discomfort and was alert as if she had taken no medication at all. The next day she walked down the hall just gently holding on to Dr. Zaidi’s arm.

“Here in one of the oldest counties in the United States it was vital to find a way to reduce pain after surgeries without using opioids,” commented Dr. Zaidi. “Opioids can really cause havoc for those over the age of 65 who are likely already on other medications. If you can avoid the opioid, you can help avoid unwanted effects such as increased confusion, decreased blood pressure, constipation, and more, and hopefully patients are able to go home sooner.”

Another benefit of using Exparel compared to an opioid is to avoid the risk of addiction, which is an increasing problem throughout the country.

“It is a wonderful thing to know I didn’t need any opioids after my surgery,” added Oberlander. “All I can do is say thank God Dr. Zaidi did his research to find a pain relief medication that is so much better than opioids.”

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