Rising opioid use in the United States has now been termed an epidemic. Opioid use is associated with considerable morbidity, mortality, and cost to the healthcare system. Orthopaedic surgeons play a key role in the opioid epidemic by prescribing postoperative narcotics. Although our understanding of the quantity of narcotics to prescribe postoperatively for analgesia is progressing, there is still a paucity of data focused on routine postoperative pain protocols. The purpose of this article is to review the current options for both opioid and non-opioid analgesia and put forth a multisubspecialty orthopaedic protocol of postoperative pain. On the basis of study findings and the individual experiences of surgeons within our orthopaedic department, our comprehensive pain protocol includes the following considerations: use of non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs on an individual basis, limited use of benzodiazepines, use of diazepam in only pediatric patients undergoing major procedures, lower doses of gabapentin after hip and knee arthroplasty, higher doses of gabapentin after spine procedures, general use of oxycodone owing to its accessibility, use of isolated opioids rather than combined forms, and close collaboration with anesthesiologists for determining use of peripheral nerve block. Our resultant comprehensive pain protocol can provide orthopaedic surgeons with a framework to build upon, which will benefit greatly from future studies that examine narcotic use with specific procedures.

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