Narcotic Fact Sheet for Patients

Please read the information below regarding what to expect following your surgery, the goal of postoperative pain management, and the side effects of the medication prescribed.

What to Expect After Surgery
  • Almost all surgical procedures result in some level of pain and discomfort. Pain and discomfort are generally greatest immediately after surgery and subside as time goes on.
  • Reducing your pain is a priority for Dr. Jurek and her team.
  • Over time, your pain will diminish and may subside completely.
  • Oral narcotic (opioid) pain medication is frequently administered to patients after surgery to help control postoperative pain. It is important to note that although these medications are effective for the treatment of acute pain, use beyond the acute pain stage can be detrimental to your health.
  • It is vital that you discontinue the use of these medications as soon as your pain allows.
  • Once you have discontinued the narcotic medication, you will likely have unused pills left over. It is best to dispose of these. Click here for how to dispose of the unused narcotic medication safely.
Narcotic Medication: Facts You Need to Know
  • Physical dependence on opioids (which means that the absence of opioids can produce withdrawal symptoms) can occur at prescribed doses.
  • Opiate abuse is on the rise in recent years and has tripled in the US since 1990.
  • 5 million people in the US are addicted to opiates and this number continues to grow.
  • There are 17,000 opiate overdoses per year in the US.
  • There were nearly 5 million drug-related ER visits in 2010; 425,0000 from narcotic usage.
  • Every day in the US, 46 people die of prescription drug overdoses.
  • Unintentional deaths from prescription narcotics outnumber those of heroin or cocaine.
  • Prolonged use of opiates leads to opioid-induced tolerance. This means that over time, more of the medication is needed to experience the same pain-relieving effects.
  • Use the narcotic medication prescribed to you as needed in the early postoperative period to ensure adequate pain control.
  • We recommend stopping your narcotic usage within 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Utilize ice (and/or heat) to help provide pain relief.
  • Dispose of unused narcotic medications once your pain is under control with non-narcotics. Click here for safe disposal suggestions.
Adverse Reactions to Opioids
  • Sleepiness/tiredness
  • Difficulty controlling arms/legs
  • Constipation
  • Limited ability to fight infection
  • Itching
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Decreased breathing
  • Drug interactions
  • Death
Potential Risk Factors for Opiate Abuse
  • Age 18-34
  • Male gender
  • 4 or more opioid prescriptions
  • Refilling prescriptions early
  • Opioid prescriptions from 2 or more pharmacies or physicians
Early Symptoms of Withdrawal
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
Late Symptoms of Withdrawal
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Adapted from Rothman Institute 2017 Study: The Effect of Preoperative Education on Opioid Consumption in Patients Undergoing Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: A Prospective, Randomized Control Trial.

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7th Floor 
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 386-2600

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