A Multimodal Protocol to Diminish Pain Following Common Orthopedic Sports Procedures: Can We Eliminate Postoperative Opioids?


      To determine whether postsurgical pain, measured by the visual analog scale (VAS), following common orthopaedic sports procedures could be managed effectively with a nonopioid multimodal analgesic protocol.


      This prospective study evaluated a custom multimodal nonopioid pain protocol in patients undergoing common orthopaedic sports procedures by a single fellowship-trained orthopaedic sports surgeon from May 2018 to December 2018. Procedures included anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, and labrum repair. The nonopioid pain protocol consisted of preoperative analgesics, intraoperative local infiltration analgesia, and a postoperative pain regimen. Patient pain was immediately reported after surgery and 1 week postoperatively using the VAS, whereas rescue opioids (oxycodone 5 mg) used were recorded using a prescription opioid journal. Statistical analysis of patient VAS scores, demographic correlations, and comparison between opioid rescue users versus nonusers was performed.


      A total of 141 patients were included. One week following surgery, patients reported a mean VAS level of 3.2 ± 2.3 and required on average 2.6 ± 3.6 breakthrough oxycodone pills (8.6 ± 12.0 morphine equivalents). Forty-five percent of patients did not require any breakthrough prescription opioids and reported satisfaction with pain management. Patients who required opioids were more likely to have a history of anxiety/depression (44.2% vs 23.8%, P = .012) and reported greater pain scores as compared with nonusers (3.94 ± 2.5 vs 2.41 ± 1.75, P = .016). The most common side effect of the pain protocol was feeling drowsy (23.5%). All patients were satisfied with their pain management postoperatively.


      A multimodal, nonopioid pain protocol was found to be effective in managing postoperative pain following common orthopedic sports procedures. Patients were found to have low levels of pain, require minimal rescue opioids, and had no severe side effects related to the protocol. These results suggest a nonopioid alternative to pain management following common orthopedic sports procedures.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, prospective case series
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