Pain control after surgery
Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. After surgery, you can
expect a certain amount of pain. But, if pain does not get better with pain medicine,
there may be a more serious problem. Your doctors and nurses will ask about your pain
because they want you to be comfortable. It is important that you tell them if their
efforts to control your pain are not working.
With today's new and improved pain medicines, there is no reason for anyone to tolerate
severe pain. By effectively treating pain, you will heal faster, and be able to go
home and resume normal activities sooner.
The importance of discussing pain control before your surgery
Discuss pain control options with your doctor before you have surgery. Talk about
pain control methods that have worked well, or not worked well for you in the past.
Also, discuss the following with your doctor:
Concerns you have about medicines
Allergies you have to any medicines or drugs
Side effects that might occur
Prescription, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal supplements that you take for
The best way of giving pain medicine for you, such as orally or through an IV
Pain medicines are given in one of the following ways:
On request. You can ask the nurse for pain medicine as you need it.
Pain pills or shots given at set times. Instead of waiting until you experience pain, you are given pain medicine at certain,
regular times throughout the day to keep the pain under control.
Patient-controlled analgesia (called PCA). You control the administration of the pain medicine by pressing a button to inject
medicine at controlled amounts and intervals through an intravenous tube in the vein.
Patient-controlled epidural analgesia (called PCEA). This type of administration provides continuous pain relief. A tube is inserted in
the spine, and when you press a button, the pain medicine goes into an epidural tube,
which is inserted in the back.
Your doctors and nurses will want to know how your pain medicine is working and whether
or not you are still having pain. The doctor will change the medicine, or dosage,
What are the different types of pain relief medicines commonly used after surgery?
The amount of discomfort you have after surgery depends on various factors, mainly
the type of surgery you had and your threshold for pain. Discuss your pain management
options with your doctor, including the various types of pain medicines and their
Some of the pain relief medicines after surgery may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some examples of this type of medicine are aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. These
medicines are most often used for mild or moderate pain. You can't get addicted to
NSAIDs. Depending on the amount of pain, NSAIDs may be enough to control pain. They
can interfere with blood clotting and may cause nausea, vomiting, stomach, or kidney
Opioids. Opioids include drugs like morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine. They are
most often used for acute pain, and may be given right after surgery. These medicines
can be safely used for short periods. If they are taken for longer periods, there
is an increased chance that you may become addicted. Opioids may also cause dizziness,
nausea, vomiting, constipation, or itching and other skin rashes.
Local anesthetics. Many techniques of local anesthesia are available. These drugs block the transmission
of nerve impulses. They are often given for severe pain in a limited area of the body,
such as the incision site. Several injections may be needed to control the pain. But,
too much anesthetic can have side effects. In a few cases, the local anesthetic can
be slowly infused via a pump into the surgical site for pain relief.
Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is one type of pain reliever that is unlikely to cause the stomach irritation
that may be associated with aspirin, naproxen sodium, ketoprofen, and even ibuprofen.
But, the active ingredients found in some other nonprescription pain relievers. Certain
acetaminophen products may also be less likely to interact with other medicines you
may be taking. Many oral analgesic medicines contain acetaminophen combined with an
opioid. It is very important to know how much acetaminophen is contained in these
combination medicines. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if taken in excess or
by people with certain medical conditions.
Breathing, meditation, guided imagery, and other relaxation exercises can also help
control pain. Talk to your doctor for more information.