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Anders' excruciating injury eventually did require a low opioid dose when the nerve block wore off but, Samet said, far less than normal.Some doctors are discovering an added benefit of cutting back or even eliminating opioids.In trauma centers and surgery suites, there are no one-size-fits-all replacements for prescription opioids – narcotic painkillers that range from intravenous morphine and Dilaudid to pills including Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin.Consider colorectal surgery, so painful that standard practice is to administer IV opioids in the operating room and switch to a patient-activated morphine pump right afterward.Myers said it lasts so many hours longer that he recently used it for a cancer patient who had both breasts removed, without resorting to opioids.At Stanford University, pain psychologist Beth Darnall says it's not just about different medications. Patients who are overly anxious about surgical pain end up feeling worse, so doctors also need to address psychological factors if they're to succeed in cutting the opioids.Samet, the anesthesiologist, estimates that Anders' nerve block cut by tenfold the amount of opioids he'd otherwise have received for his latest injury.
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