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Tampa Doctor Transforming Patient Care with Non-Opioid Options

Revolutionizing Postsurgical Pain Management
Dr. Christopher Baker, Orthopedic Surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute.
Dr. Christopher Baker, Orthopedic Surgeon at Florida Orthopaedic Institute. [ Dr. Christopher Baker ]
Published Oct. 18
Updated Oct. 20

According to the CDC, U.S. drug overdose deaths hit a record high in 2020. Additionally, a statewide report revealed almost 4,000 opioid overdose deaths in Florida in the first half of last year alone – a 30.5% increase from the previous year. With such jarring statistics, it’s unfortunate that these addictive medications are still commonly overprescribed to patients to manage postsurgical pain. While they are intended to provide pain relief, opioids often come with unwanted side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, and the risk for addiction or dependence. Luckily, there are now safe and effective non-opioid options available for patients to address pain following various procedures. I’ve made it my mission to educate patients, caregivers, and other physicians about all pain management options available to them for these procedures.

In recent years, orthopedic surgeons have written almost 8% of all opioid prescriptions. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and shoulder reconstruction at Florida Orthopaedic Institute, I know we can do better. In my practice, I am working to utilize new and innovative options that help decrease unnecessary opioid exposure among my patients. In looking for the most optimal ways to manage my patients’ pain, and with research illustrating the benefits of non-opioid options, I turned to an opioid alternative called EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension). EXPAREL is a long-acting local anesthetic that is injected by your doctor during the procedure and slowly delivers a numbing medication over time. It helps relieve pain for the first few days following surgery – which are often considered the most painful. With demonstrated success among patients, EXPAREL is now a regular part of my pain management protocol for all shoulder surgeries.

Implementing EXPAREL into my pain management protocol has allowed me to successfully manage my patients’ pain while reducing, and in some cases, eliminating the need for opioids. This protocol has allowed me to shift most of my procedures to “same day” – enabling patients to get discharged more quickly. Incorporating EXPAREL into my practice has also helped lead to lower readmission rates for patients. Anecdotally, patients are reporting an overall enhanced surgery experience from start to finish, which is especially promising for what can historically be a painful procedure.

As physicians throughout the country push for non-opioid availability for patients, it is also important for patients to advocate for themselves and speak with their health care providers about the pain management options available to them, including opioid alternatives such as EXPAREL. Patients and providers must work together to reduce unnecessary exposure to opioids to help combat the ongoing epidemic and improve the overall patient experience.

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About Florida Orthopedic Institute

Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s Divisions include Foot and Ankle, Hand and Wrist, Joint Arthroplasty, Oncology, Orthopaedic Trauma, Pain Management, Rehabilitative Medicine, Shoulder and Elbow, Spine Surgery, and Sports Medicine. The practice has several locations throughout the Tampa Bay area. 813-978-9797.

This article is sponsored by Pacira BioSciences, Inc. and Florida Orthopaedic Institute.


EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) is indicated for single-dose infiltration in patients aged 6 years and older to produce postsurgical local analgesia and in adults as an interscalene brachial plexus nerve block to produce postsurgical regional analgesia. Safety and efficacy have not been established in other nerve blocks.

Important Safety Information

EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia.

In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected into a wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting.

In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, and constipation.

In the study where EXPAREL was given to children, the most common side effects were nausea, vomiting, constipation, low blood pressure, low number of red blood cells, muscle twitching, blurred vision, itching, and rapid heartbeat.

EXPAREL can cause a temporary loss of feeling and/or loss of muscle movement. How much and how long the loss of feeling and/or muscle movement depends on where and how much of EXPAREL was injected and may last for up to 5 days.

EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 6 years old for injection into the wound, for patients younger than 18 years old for injection near a nerve, and/or in pregnant women.

Tell your health care provider if you or your child has liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from the body.

EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins.

The active ingredient in EXPAREL can affect the nervous system and the cardiovascular system; may cause an allergic reaction; may cause damage if injected into the joints; and can cause a rare blood disorder.