Controlling your pain after surgery is important for your swift recovery. You will be more comfortable, more able to do post-surgical exercises, and avoid common post-surgical complications that some people experience when their pain is not managed.
Pain after surgery is not something you should have to suffer through. There are a variety of options for managing pain, and you will work with your doctor to find the right treatment plan for you.
First step: Ask your doctor questions about what you can expect after surgery, such as how much pain there will be, where, and for how long. Be prepared.
Discuss options: Talk about what pain control options have worked for you in the past and any drug allergies or side effects you may have experienced. Also ask about side effects caused by any pain control options suggested for this procedure.
Non-Drug Pain Relief – may be used to mild to moderate pain and may boost the effects of pain control drugs
- Patient Teaching: reduce anxiety by learning about your operation
- Relaxation: increase comfort
- Music: can provide relaxation and distract you from the pain
- Physical Agents: heat or cold therapy, massage, rest, good body alignment
Pain Relief Medicine
- Analgesics/Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Help to reduce swelling and soreness, may be combined with other options for best possible pain control. Examples include aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
- Opioids: Usually used short-term for severe pain after surgery. They may cause nausea, constipation, and drowsiness. Examples include morphine and codeine.
- Local Anesthetics: Administered near the incision site or through a small tube in your back, to block pain signals. There are fewer side effects with local anesthetic and it may reduce the need for opioids. Examples include bupivacaine and lidocaine.
- Tablets or liquid: less discomfort than injections, inexpensive, easy to use at home. These medicines cannot be used if you are nauseous or vomiting.
- Skin/muscle injections: will be effective even if you are nauseous or vomiting. May cause discomfort at the injection site.
- Vein injections: injected through an IV, acts quickly. Ask your doctor or nurse about Patient Controlled Analgesia.
- Spine injections: administered through a small tube or injection in your back, and works well for pain from chest or lower body surgery. You will be monitored closely for the first 24 hours for any complications.
Talk about your pain medicine schedule: It has been shown that taking pain medicine at a set time instead of waiting for the pain to be severe can bring better results. If you are only getting pain medicine upon request, don’t wait too long to ask. Take pain medicine before doing anything that you know will make the pain worse, like walking or exercise. Pain is easier to control before it starts.
If you have pain that will not go away, even with pain medicine, tell your doctor or nurse. This could be a sign of complications from your procedure.