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VHA Pain Management

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For Providers - Specific Populations - Acute and Post-Surgical Pain

For Providers - Specific Population - Post Surgical


This section provides tools addressing "Acute and Post-Surgical Pain," developed for providers.

The approach to acute and post-surgical pain has been changing. Opioids may not be the most effective or safest approach in many situations and when opioids are used they should be prescribed at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest indicated duration. Even when opioids are used short term, the risks of short-term therapy becoming long-term therapy increases with longer duration and higher doses of opioid therapy. Current guidelines and recent evidence recommend multimodal treatment of acute pain and use of non-pharmacologic options and non-opioid pharmacologic options as first line therapy with opioids added when necessary. It is also recommended that the need for and dose of opioid therapy be reevaluated within 3-5 days of initiation. In addition, prior to prescribing opioids, risk mitigation strategies such as obtaining a history of substance use and mental health concerns, reviewing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and urine drug testing results,  and providing overdose education and naloxone prescription should be considered for all patients.

Additional resources related to acute pain and post-surgical pain are provided below.

Resources - Acute Pain and Post-Surgical Pain

Title/Link Source
VA Academic Detailing document on Acute Pain Management (PDF) VA National Academic Detailing Service 
Michigan - Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Open)  Michigan OPEN’s preventative approach to fighting the opioid epidemic with a focus on acute care prescribing.

Providers Pain Management - Resource Topics

 Stay Current site  Whole Person Pain Care site Team-Based Pain Care Site  Specific Population site 

Literature Alerts for VA Staff

The VA Library Network will provide VA staff an index of recent articles related to opioids and many other areas of interest right to your work mailbox. If you are interested in subscribing to this alert click here.

Disclaimer: *Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.