More than 100 million Americans are affected by knee pain. Gabrielle Reece, one of the greatest women beach volleyball players of all-time, is one of them.
The model, actress, writer, sports announcer and fitness expert – who is a spokesperson for Pacira Pharmaceuticals – joins The Doctors to raise awareness about pain management options. Gabrielle had a full knee replacement 7 months ago after experiencing pain for 14 years.
“It was difficult. At the time I decided to try and go the opioid-free route. It was a big undertaking,” she tells ER physician Dr. Travis Stork.
Dr. Stork explains that opioid pain relievers are narcotics that are used for severe pain and work by binding to receptors in the brain, which block the feeling of pain. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Sigman, who partnered with Pacira Pharmaceuticals, also joins The Doctors to discuss the concerns regarding pain management.
“My patients are really worried about this opioid crisis right now and they want to undergo these elective surgeries to get themselves out of pain, but they are very nervous or worried that their pain won’t be able to be controlled or [that] they are going to become addicted to these medications. Elective surgery, in particular, has become an inadvertent gateway to this crisis. As many as 1 out of every 15 patients who undergo elective surgery may become long-term addicted to the medication. The reason I am here specifically is to create awareness that there are alternatives to these opioids,” he says.
Some of the options to opioids include acupuncture, IV anti-inflammatories, oral anti-inflammatories, local anesthetics, electrical stimulation, and dietary supplements to help treat pain.
Gabrielle stresses that physical therapy is a major part of many recoveries. She was walking the same afternoon that she had the surgery. Her therapy included using a stationary bike, a range of motion machine, icing and heating, stretching and eating certain foods to help with inflammation. She encourages anyone who needs a plan for pain management to visit PlanAgainstPain.com for more information about the Choices Matter campaign.
“There are a lot of options to make the recovery easier and better and possibly avoid the opioids,” she says.
Dr. Sigman adds, “We want to empower our patients to know that you have choices and options. There are alternatives to opioids that are available,” explaining that PlanAgainstPain.com has a survey that can help you or loved ones decide which plan will best fit your needs.