Pain Management After Surgery

Pain management after surgery is our priority for you.  Managing your pain and minimizing the side effects of medications are important in planning for the best recovery.  In addition to keeping you comfortable, adequate pain management may help to reduce your risk of developing certain complications after surgery, such as a respiratory infection and blood clots.  When your pain is well managed, you will be better able to focus on deep breathing and being independent in walking and other important activities of daily living.

Pain management is a very individual experience.  We will talk about your experience with successful pain management pre - operatively, including expectations about pain associated with the procedure and the normal duration of the recovery.  Being prepared typically leads to the most effective pain management strategies.  After surgery, you will be asked frequently about the effectiveness of your pain management – be sure to discuss what is working  for you and what may need to be revised- miscommunication about your pain management may increase post-operative anxiety, stress and disappointment.

Pain management is a balance between - minimizing the risks or potential side effects associated with use of narcotic medications (Percocet, Vicodin, Dilaudid) – such as nausea, stomach irritation, constipation, itching, lethargy or dependence – and making sure you are safely as comfortable as possible.  Narcotics may be prescribed for a short time immediately after your surgery, however the goal is always to minimize narcotic use and begin to use Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) within a few days after surgery.

NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve) reduce the swelling and inflammation often associated with surgery, and are effective in managing pain without the side effects of narcotic use. Using NSAIDs often helps to reduce the amount of narcotics you need.  NSAIDs are not recommended if you are on medications such as Coumadin or Plavix (“blood thinners”).  It is always recommended to eat before taking NSAIDs to minimize the risk of stomach irritation.

Along with medications, there are other techniques that can dramatically reduce your experience of pain, including focused relaxation techniques, guided imagery and music.  You are encouraged to bring relaxation media and or listening devices with you for your use before your procedure and to use during your post-operative recovery.