New Study Results on Opioid Use and Pain

Spilled pills and pill bottles

A study of more than 100,000 surgical cases at University of Virginia (UVA) Health System found patients’ pain scores improved even as doctors gave fewer opioids.

Two key factors were associated with this finding:

  1. Opioids make patients more sensitive to pain, though the reason why that occurs is unclear. So reducing the amount of opioids given to patients might by itself improve pain scores.
  2. UVA began implementing the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery program, which increased the use of non-opioid pain medications, such as lidocaine and acetaminophen, which is commonly used in over-the-counter pain medications. 

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