Rotator cuff surgery is often necessary to relieve the pain of a tear, but that doesn’t mean the surgery itself ends the pain right away. Recovering from surgery like this can be slow and difficult, especially given the many moving parts required to make this joint work.
Now some researchers are treating rotator cuff surgery as a laboratory for new pain management techniques, testing whether non-opioid medical care could be just as effective as some of the tried and true – and habit-forming – alternatives:
The techniques might include injecting a nonaddictive anesthetic at the base of the neck to block pain signals, or sending a patient home with a catheter implanted under the skin to deliver doses of anesthetics for several days. Wearable icing devices and mechanical stimulation of the surgical site can reduce pain and swelling during physical therapy. And drug regimens seek to steer patients within a few days toward common medications such as Tylenol.
It is an intriguing avenue and an overdue science-based approach to pain – one which many orthopedic surgeons would like to see analyzed and formalized across the board.
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