Why Use Multimodal Analgesia?

Multimodal analgesia has recently become much more popular as a way of controlling pain, especially for people who have had surgery. In a sense, multimodal analgesia is a way of intervening to prevent pain from being experienced or reducing the pain felt to a level that is acceptable to patients. Multimodal analgesia relates to using different types of painkillers and techniques as a means of pain management.

Various Aspects of Multimodal Analgesia

There are very different approaches and techniques used with regard to multimodal analgesia. The term itself explains this: %u2018multimodal%u2019 means different ways and analgesia is the relief of pain.

So different people will have different experiences of multimodal analgesia. Sometimes a patient may be given an epidural catheter and Non Steroid Anti Inflammatories (which are then referred to as NSAIDS).

Other patients may be givena combination of different types of painkillers, some that are opium based and others that are not. Some patients may receive other %u2018pharmalogical therapies%u2019 which again are simply about a combination of drugs.

People receive different forms of multimodal analgesia according to the surgery that they may have had, or the pain condition that is being treated. It is reasonable to treat someone who has had a limb amputated slightly different from someone who has had a relatively minor operation.

Person Specific Analgesia

Multimodal analgesia is very much geared to the individual patient. It is not a %u2018one size fits all%u2019 approach, but rather one that is tailored to suit the individual. For example, some people may be able to experience pain better than others. Some may have underlying medical conditions that require some medications to be avoided and so on.

Thus the use of multimodal analgesia looks at the patient as a whole and then looks at ways that their pain can be managed.

Pre-emptive Approach

Multimodal analgesia is often referred to as being a pre-emptive approach to managing pain, especially after surgery. It is therefore about reducing pain levels before they get too high, rather than waiting until the pain becomes almost unbearable and then trying to lower it.

The fact that it is about preventing pain helps patients to feel more in control of their pain (sometimes they may even be able to adjust the dosage themselves) and this in itself can assist patients in recovery. They obviously feel better when they are not in significant pain!

Research also indicates that when a multimodal approach to analgesia is adopted, there is earlier mobilisation of the area that has been subject to surgery. (Although we often think mobilisation refers to walking or legs, it can be used in any post-operative scenario; thus if someone has had their fingers operated on, using or flexing their fingers can be described as mobilisation.)

Increasingly multimodal analgesia is being seen as the new way forward within the world of analgesia and further advances, more effective techniques are likely to develop at a lightening pace. It is pre-emptive, exciting and definitely an extremely potent means of pain management.