One of the principles that I adhere to as an orthopedic surgeon is staying current and watchful of new techniques and technologies that have potential to benefit my patients. While as surgeons we fine tune our skills to provide the best technique we feel we can offer, there are frequently nuances or changes that can be incorporated and make our techniques even better. One such change has occurred in my practice recently. I have started using a new medicine called Exparel for the pain block on our shoulder surgeries, especially rotator cuff repairs, instability surgeries, and some total shoulder replacements. This medicine lasts up to six times longer than the conventional blocks that we have given for the past so-many decades. The FDA also recently approved this medicine for use in the particular block we use on our shoulders called the interscalene block.
We now have over 20 patients who have undergone shoulder surgery with the use of this block. Their pain relief has been vastly superior to the conventional block. We can now do rotator cuff repairs on a Friday, and the patient has the potential for a near pain-free weekend, as the block lasts typically about 72 hours. There is always the potential for some pain, but there is such a significant reduction that many patients are taking no narcotics at all during that time. After 72 hours, they may take some narcotics, and they may have some pain with the therapy that follows, but the original pain cycle is disrupted and they are experiencing a more comfortable recovery.
An additional hope is that we can vastly reduce the amount of narcotics that our patients are taking altogether with such treatments.
With narcotics, unfortunately, even well-intentioned patients under supervision with no previous narcotics use could become increasingly dependent on the use of narcotics that are prescribed in a postsurgical fashion. As healthcare providers, we want to avoid these cases all together. All efforts that we can employ to decrease the use and abuse of narcotics are essential. The use of our new interscalene blocks for shoulder surgery is one such effort yielding excellent results.
Just one more way that the providers at OrthoKnox are trying to improve your life through superior surgical outcomes.