By Dr. Nicholas Polifroni
The management of post operative pain from Total Joint Replacement has changed dramatically in the last few years. Gone are the days of needing strong intravenous narcotics that rob the patients of strength and their ability to progress. We have moved to multimodal pain management. We are using a nationally recognized protocol that uses smaller doses of many medications to attack postoperative discomfort along with rapid rehabilitation, and treatment to minimize the side effects of medications.
The goal is to prevent pain from becoming part of the rehab process. To start, patients are educated on what to expect from their surgical experience. The day of surgery, prior to the operation, a long acting pain medication, along with a long acting anti-nausea medication, is given in the preoperative suite. We use minimally invasive surgical techniques to minimize soft tissue trauma, and pain numbing medication is injected around the area of operation, and in some cases nerves that control pain to the area. Long acting medications, and the addition of short acting medications of low risk, create a barricade to post operative pain. Long acting nerve suppression medication is used during the hospitalization to enhance sleep and calm anxiety.
The result is a rapid return to function, that we did not see previously. Many patients are happily going home after surgery because they are doing so well.
Through the efforts of our dedicated Physician Assistants and Orthopaedic nurses at Norwalk Hospital, the patients receive the best care possible. We also now have available at Norwalk Hospital, a dedicated surgical floor that only Total Joint patients will be admitted. This creates a special environment for patients and families to recover faster and enjoy the benefits of their joint replacement. All of these efforts are giving us tremendous results for our Total Joint Recipients.