Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Pain Control After Surgery: Know Your Options
What is pain?
Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong in your body. Sometimes pain is just a nuisance, like a mild headache. At other times, pain can be more serious. For example, after an operation, if your pain doesn't go away even after you take pain medicine, your body may be telling you that something is wrong. After you have surgery, your nurses and doctors will ask about your pain because they want you to be comfortable. They also ask about your pain because they want to know if something is wrong. Be sure to tell your doctors and nurses if you have pain after your surgery.
What are the benefits of pain control after surgery?
People used to think severe pain after surgery was something they just had to put up with. This is no longer true. Today, your nurses and doctors can do many things before and after surgery to prevent or help your pain. Treating your pain can help you in the following ways:
Who decides about pain control?
You and your doctors and nurses can decide which methods of pain control are right for you. Sometimes, a couple of methods are combined to get even better pain relief. Don't worry about getting "hooked" on pain medicines during the time you're recovering from surgery. This doesn't happen very often. Your nurses and doctors want to make your surgery as pain-free as they can. The amount or type of pain you feel may not be the same as the pain other people feel, even people who have the same operation.
What should I ask my doctor about pain control?
Before your surgery, discuss the pain control options with your doctors and nurses. Be sure to talk about the following things:
How are pain medicines given?
Sometimes people are given pain medicines only when they ask a nurse for them. This may not be the best way to control your pain. The following are different ways you can get pain medicine:
What should I do if I'm still having pain?
Your nurses and doctors will ask you how your pain medicine is working. If you are still having pain, your doctor can change the medicine, its dose or its timing. Take (or ask for) pain-relief drugs as soon as your pain starts. If you know that your pain is going to get worse when you start doing activities, you can take some pain medicine first. It's easier to control pain before it really gets started. It's harder to ease pain once it has taken hold.