Multimodal Analgesia For Pain Relief After Joint Replacement Interview with:

Joseph Albert Karam, MD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery
Associate Program Director, Orthopaedic Surgery Residency
The University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Karam  What is the background for this study?Would you describe the multimodal pain plan?

Response: Pain after joint replacement surgery has been historically managed by protocols centered on opioid medication. Given the side effects associated with these medications, the risk for long term addiction and evidence showing that opioids are not necessarily the best at treating pain perioperatively in joint replacement, multimodal pain management protocols have been established. These protocols utilize different families of medications that target pain at different steps in the pain pathway.

The exact protocol varies from one institution to the other but typically include systemic agents such as acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories/COX-2 inhibitors, gabapentinoids, corticosteroids, as well as loco-regional interventions such as local infiltration analgesia and regional nerve blocks. ‘Pre-emptive analgesia’ which most commonly uses a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, acetaminophen and/or a gabapentinoid has also been demonstrated to play a key role. Additional measures such as NMDA antagonists and epidural catheters can also be used in select cases. Non-pharmacological treatments such as cryotherapy, cryoneurolysis and electrical nerve stimulation have also been described. Our preferred institutional protocol is detailed in the paper.

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Fusion vs Replacement for Pain Relief from Ankle Arthritis Interview with:
Bruce J. Sangeorzan, M.D.
, Professor
Director, RR&D Center for Excellence in Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering
Veterans Affairs
University of Washington  What is the background for this study?

Response: We began a series of studies in the early 2000’s when ankle replacement was limited to a few centers like our own. We knew that ankle arthrodesis– or fusion—was an effective treatment for ankle arthritis. But ankle fusion is not appropriate for some people and it also results in loss of ankle motion. There were a growing number of ankle replacements being done but little was known about their effectiveness or how long they last.

We wanted to study whether replacement and fusion were comparable for pain relief and activity and wanted to know if maintaining motion of the ankle (by using a replacement) would have an advantage without additional risk. Three studies were done involving more than 800 patients from 6 centers.

This most recent study compared two groups of patients who had similar amount of pain and activity before treatment. All of the patients had already tried non -surgical solutions such as activity modification, bracing and injections with out improvement. One group had fusion of the ankle and the other had replacement of the ankle. Patients were questioned and examined four years or more after surgery and compared to their condition before treatment.