In 1834, Richard Henry Dana Jr. took a two-year sea voyage from Boston to California and chronicled it in his book "Two Years Before the Mast," revealing the hardships and pain of that daring adventure.
Today, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are revealing the incredible benefits of their MAST (multimodal analgesic strategies for trauma) regimen, designed to manage acute pain (such as after surgery) while reducing the use of opioids.
Their study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, found that using oral acetaminophen along with naproxen, gabapentin (the only drug that required a prescription), and lidocaine patches was an effective pain management approach.
If there was breakthrough pain, then oxycodone (an opioid) was used.
This regimen significantly reduced the amount of opioids given to patients while in the hospital, and reduced by 5% the number of opioid prescriptions provided when they headed home. (At the Cleveland Clinic, an unpublished study found alternative pain relief approaches can reduce opioid prescriptions by as much as 35%.)
While opioids are often needed, and are effective, it's smart to limit their use whenever possible.
Fortunately, MAST reduces opioid-associated risks, including gastrointestinal complications and dependency, while relieving severe, acute pain.
If you are going in for surgery or end up in the emergency room because of an accident, ask about this new approach to pain management. That way, you can be the MASTer of your treatment.
And if you do take opioids for a short time, consult a pain management specialist to oversee prescriptions and doses.