Multimodal analgesia in the hip fracture patient

Hip fracture is one of the most common injuries among the elderly and, because the population is aging, it is expected to remain a major clinical challenge and public health problem for the foreseeable future. The clinical importance of early mobilization and prompt participation in physical therapy after hip fracture surgery is now widely recognized. Because postoperative pain can impair mobility and delay physical therapy, much attention is now being paid to finding more effective ways of controlling pain after hip fracture.

Oversedation with opioid drugs inhibits communication between the patient and the health care team, can delay ambulation and rehabilitation therapy, and may increase the probability of the patient requiring a skilled nursing facility, which adds further cost to the overall health care system. Multiple pain pathways contribute to the perception of postoperative pain, and although opioids are highly effective in blocking nociceptive pain through inhibition of the mu receptors, they do not block other pain pathways.

Multimodal analgesia involves the use of several anesthetic and analgesic modalities that are strategically combined to block pain perception at different sites in the peripheral and central nervous systems. This balanced, multifaceted approach provides more effective control of postoperative pain than opioid drugs alone, allows lower doses of opioids to be used as part of the multimodal regimen (thereby reducing the risk of opioid-related adverse events and complications), and may facilitate more rapid recovery and improve certain outcome measures related to recovery time.

One prospective randomized study evaluating the clinical value of multimodal pain management in elderly patients undergoing bipolar hip hemiarthroplasty found that a multimodal regimen, including preemptive pain medication and intraoperative periarticular injections, reduced pain on postoperative days 1 and 4, and reduced overall opioid use.

This article describes an effective multimodal pain management regimen for hip fracture patients.