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Multimodal pain management has become an important part of the perioperative care of patients undergoing total joint replacement. The principle of multimodal therapy is to use interventions that target several different steps of the pain pathway, allowing more effective pain control with fewer side effects. Many different protocols have shown clinical benefit. The goal of this review is to provide a concise overview of the principles and results of multimodal pain management regimens as a practical guide for the management of joint arthroplasty patients.
Multimodal denotes administering two or more than two types of medications that work with different mechanisms. The following are the techniques used:
Pre-operative Femoral Nerve Block: Prior to the surgery, a catheter is placed beside the femoral nerve for blocking it. This nerve is located in the upper thigh. Medication is delivered through the catheter for the nerve to be numbed for 24 hours. Thus, pain signals to the brain are blocked. This method reduces the use of narcotics and the consequent side effects.
Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA): This method is also known as ‘Pain Pump’. An intravenous pump is used to administer pain relief medications, such as oxymorphone or morphine, after the surgery. The control button of the machine could be pressed, by the patient for 6 to 10 times per hour. The machine is used for two post-operative days.
Oral Medications: The oral medications include Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs or NSAID; such as Celebrex which is similar to aspirin, structurally. Alternatively, acetaminophen, such as Tylenol or its equivalent composition, can also be used.
Acetaminophen: It acts on the Central Prostaglandin Synthesis and relieves the patient of pain through multiple mechanisms.
Epidural Analgesia: It produces lower pain scores and involves less time for achieving physical therapy goals. However, this is subject to side effects such as dizziness, urinary retention and itchiness.
The objective of multimodal treatments is to provide quick relief to the patient and immediately so. Earlier the rehabilitation, more successful will be the knee replacement surgery.
Conventional medicine treats pain with the help of medications; by either blocking the transmission of pain signals in the body or by correcting the underlying problems caused by the pain in the first place. However, traditional and alternative forms of medicine such as acupuncture manage pain issues within the body through the means of redirecting disrupted energy flows. One of the very few forms of alternative treatments used in conjunction with conventional treatments, acupuncture is seen as a mercurial rise in popularity in the past few decades.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture dates back to ancient China, about 2500 years ago. It has been widely practiced there for a number of millennia, not only pain relief, but also for treating many ailments. Acupuncture isn’t just considered a form of therapy, but a holistic form of medicine. Acupuncture works on the principle of the flow of energy within the body, also known as ‘Qi’, in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture strives to correct the disruptions in ‘Qi’ that may cause pain by manipulating over 2000 of the specific pressure points within the body with the help of specially created needles.
Where is acupuncture effective?
Acupuncture is very effective in treating a host of ailments, especially in relieving the associated pain. Some of the areas where acupuncture has proven its effectiveness are:
1. Treating nausea and vomiting caused due to chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients
2. Very useful in treating post-operative pain caused due to dental procedures
3. Rehabilitating patients who have suffered strokes
4. Fibromyalgia (musculo-skeletal pain with fatigue accompanied by sleep and memory issues)
5. Effective in combating withdrawal symptoms caused due to addiction
6. Pain from menstrual cramps
7. Tennis elbow
8. Osteoarthritis (a type of arthritis caused due to the erosion of tissues present at the ends of one’s bones)
9. Pain of the lower vertebrae within the spinal column
How does acupuncture work within the body?
According to modern medicine, the specific pressure points utilized by acupuncture within the body help in releasing chemicals that can block or at least reduce pain. It encourages the flow of chemicals from the brain, which act as nerve and pain blockers. It also helps stimulate the muscles and nerve endings, which can lessen inflammation and thus help in reducing pain.