Event 7: Courtney's Summary


  • Stopped using opioids regularly and only used intermittently with decreasing frequency
  • Appropriately continued to use non-steroidal medication before dance practice to reduce likelihood of pain afterwards
  • She now attends college as a freshman with essentially no residual pain
  • She decided to give up organized dancing because of some limitation in her movements but not because of pain

Pain Information and Reassurance After Surgery

  • Patients and their family need to be told that pain may occur intermittently as a normal part of surgical recovery with increasing activity.
  • Patients should be encouraged to treat episodes with local therapy (heat or ice) and non-opioid analgesics (acetaminophen or NSAIDs) before taking an opioid.
  • A small amount of opioid should continue to be available for up to several months after a major surgery in case the pain becomes severe.
  • Severe pain lasting longer than expected should prompt contact with the health care team.

Summary for Opioid Abuse

  • 7-20% of adolescents and 20-50% of young adults ages 18-25 have taken opioids for non-medical reasons (Buck, M., 2016) 
  • Opioid analgesics are the class of controlled medications most likely to be misused and abused by adolescents (Young, A. et al., 2012) 
  • Monitoring for the potential of liking the medication independent of the pain relief, should be a routine part of postoperative care
  • Courtney didn’t like the side effects of opioids, as seen in this module
  • As with Courtney, the majority of post-surgical patients go on to lead normal lives
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