Multimodal analgesia is defined as the use of more than one pharmacological class of analgesic medication targeting different receptors along the pain pathway with the goal of improving analgesia while reducing individual class-related side effects. Evidence today supports the routine use of multimodal analgesia in the perioperative period to eliminate the over-reliance on opioids for pain control and to reduce opioid-related adverse events. A multimodal analgesic protocol should be surgery-specific, functioning more like a checklist than a recipe, with options to tailor to the individual patient. Elements of this protocol may include opioids, non-opioid systemic analgesics like acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, gabapentinoids, ketamine, and local anesthetics administered by infiltration, regional block, or the intravenous route. While implementation of multimodal analgesic protocols perioperatively is recommended as an intervention to decrease the prevalence of long-term opioid use following surgery, the concurrent crisis of drug shortages presents an additional challenge. Anesthesiologists and acute pain medicine specialists will need to advocate locally and nationally to ensure a steady supply of analgesic medications and in-class alternatives for their patients' perioperative pain management.
Recommended CitationSchwenk, Eric S. and Mariano, Edward R., "Designing the ideal perioperative pain management plan starts with multimodal analgesia." (2018). Department of Anesthesiology Faculty Papers. Paper 47.
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