Does Surgical Pain Require Opioids?

This week I want to share an article and resource about pain management alternatives. The first article is written by a former NBA star about his personal experience with opioids and alternative pain management tactics. The second is a website that helps patients research and prepare for their pain management plan after surgery. Below you’ll find these and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

I’ve Been Through 11 Surgeries. Here’s What I Want Fellow Athletes to Know About Pain Management Options

Former NBA star Grant Hill shares his view on opioids and alternatives to pain management. He has had 11 surgeries over the course of his life and was initially prescribed opioids to manage the pain. It wasn’t until his most recent two surgeries that his doctor said he would be managing his pain using a long-acting numbing medication (not identified) during surgery that couldbe an alternative to opioids even after surgery. And it worked out that way, which is one reason why Grant is now a strong advocate for alternative pain management methods and helping other athletes stay healthy and minimize their opioid use.

Mark’s Thoughts:
This is a helpful perspective from a professional athlete that knows about pain—injury, surgery, post-surgery, recovery—and includes an additional helpful resource called “Choices Matter.” The athlete’s perspective on recovery has long been of interest to me – I wrote about playing through the pain on 9/25/14. Athletes have different motivations to address pain and in their rush to return to the field / court can often lead to poor, uneducated choices. From what Grant Hill says, an open conversation between the patient and doctor about options for pain management is key to the process. That transparency should be throughout the process but most importantly before surgery. He is an advocate for non-opioid options for treating pain—”I want people to know they have a choice when it comes to managing pain after surgery.” By raising awareness, he is using his story to help others engage in their care and make more informed choices. And that includes the all-important conversation to discover all of the appropriate options between the patient and provider. Do. Your. Homework.

Plan Against Pain

Many physicians and patients use opioids to manage their pain after surgery. In fact, for a long time, you could even classify it as “status quo” (which is fortunately changing in many locations). However, there are other options. Plan Against Pain is a resource to help research and prepare for recovery options post-surgery.

Mark’s Thoughts:
If you or someone you know has surgery on the horizon, consider using this resource to help in planning. A successful outcome is not just the physician’s responsibility—it is the patient’s responsibility (and their caregivers) too. Doing your homework BEFORE the surgery can increase the chances of success. Many people spend more time researching what toaster oven to buy than what they need to do before (evaluating alternatives) and after (their part in recovery) a surgery that could have life-long implications. While the “Build A Plan” webpage is a great place to start, there is great content throughout the website including a Q&A section.

A sobering statistic…

Don’t add to that statistic. Make an informed choice.

To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at

Until Next Week,