Pain Management After Surgery: Do’s and Don’ts
You undertook surgery to manage pain effectively. While the reason for the pain may vary, one thing that’s crucial to your recovery now is post-surgical pain control. Pain control after surgery should be a primary focus for both you and your physician.
At Advanced Pain Care, we want our patients to experience a better quality of life after a surgical procedure. So, we take post-surgery pain management seriously. The better your pain is controlled, the more you will be able to engage in daily activities effectively. So, before you head back home, we’ll provide you with all the necessary instructions about dressings, medications, exercises, and follow-up appointments. At this time, we urge you to ask every question that comes to your mind regarding post-operative care.
Remember that the final outcome of the surgery relies significantly on post-surgery care. Here’s a look at some do’s and don’ts for you to take care of yourself after surgery.
How to Deal with Pain After a Surgical Procedure
Having helped innumerable patients cope effectively with pain after surgery, if there’s one piece of advice we can give you, it is that managing pain doesn’t involve taking higher doses of prescription medication.
While we don’t deny the importance of medicines, there are many other effective ways to find pain relief after surgery. Let’s explore some of these options.
- Limit the number of opioid medications – It might surprise you when you find that nearly 82% of patients who undergo knee surgery like arthroscopic partial meniscectomy find the much-needed relief with non-opioid pain management strategies. However, we also have many patients for whom it becomes a necessity to use an opioid. In that case, we always recommend they minimize the amount of the medication they take. A great way to reduce this medication’s consumption is to use it alongside non-opioid medicines that we prescribe. Pain relievers like Ibuprofen also work tremendously to control post-surgical pain.
- Look into over-the-counter pain medications – Patients who do not experience severe post-surgical pain do well with non-prescription pain medications. Although you don’t have to make a decision between prescription or OTC medicines, we’ve found the symptoms of many patients are alleviated with over-the-counter drugs. At Advanced Pain Care, we assess the intensity of your pain and recommend the right over-the-counter pain-relieving medication.
- Prioritize sleep and increase your physical activity slowly – Sleep is one of the best medicines for pain management after surgery. Sufficient sleep enhances your capacity to deal with pain. It also quickens the recovery process. Although we cannot stress the importance of sleep enough, we’ve also found some patients experiencing insomnia after surgery. Undoubtedly, it nullifies the restorative effect of sleep. What we recommend is to use medications to first minimize the pain. After your pain improves, you can work on getting enough sleep. While recovering, you may feel an urge to return to the physical activities you previously enjoyed. However, jumping straight into prior physical activity levels will only worsen the pain. Therefore, it’s best to introduce activity slowly, back into your life.
- Avoid sitting for more than a few hours at a stretch – There’s a fine line between adequate rest and relaxation and being inactive for too long. For many patients, this line blurs, especially after surgery. Lying or sitting for too long can result in more pain than relief. If you want to get rid of the stiffness, we recommend getting up from your bed and taking a light stroll every hour or two. Be cautious though, if you experience severe pain in doing simple tasks like walking and standing, you should immediately reach out to your physician.
- Minimize your stress – Stress is always the enemy and never the ally of pain management. As experienced pain specialists, we highly recommend you work on decreasing your stress levels if you want to see an improvement in post-surgical pain. The procedure you’ve undergone has already stressed you physically. Although you can’t do much to minimize physical stress, now is the time to take steps to keep yourself mentally stress-free. Use simple techniques like deep breathing and light exercises to fast-track your way to recovery.
- Do things to which your body responds positively – Without a doubt, surgery is a major intervention with which your body is not familiar. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot resort to your conventional ways of pain control. It’s always wise to take measures to which your body has always responded positively. For instance, if you’ve always found over-the-counter medicines bringing you pain relief, your post-surgery pain should also respond positively to it. Additionally, if you’ve always resorted to pain aids like heat pads for relief, doing so after surgery could be the right course of action for you.
- Use relaxation techniques – Relaxation can be found in anything that you like, for example, gardening, walking, listening to music, and the like. Two relaxation techniques we’ve seen benefit most patients are guided imagery and mindfulness meditation. In the former, all you need to do is breathe deeply and slowly. Now imagine a soothing environment where you feel relaxed and comfortable. You can make this image in your mind as clear as possible by including smells, sounds, and colors in it. We advise you to practice this relaxation technique for 5 to 10 minutes daily. In the other technique, mindfulness meditation, you can just lie or sit quietly and observe your breathing. When you find the pain interrupting your focus on your breath, simply notice it without pushing it away and try to return your focus to your breathing. Doing this for 20 minutes every day can greatly reduce pain symptoms.
Do’s & Don’ts After Surgery
Once you’ve left the hospital, recovering from the surgical procedure you underwent can seem stressful. Many of our patients spend the majority of their time at home. When you are by yourself, you need to have a good idea of the “do’s and don’ts” during this time.
Remember that any procedure involving anesthesia and incision comes with a risk of complications. To help you avoid developing such issues, we’ve compiled a list of simple do’s and don’ts that you can follow. It will ensure that you benefit from a smooth recovery.
|Use pain medicines as directed.||Don’t drive too soon.|
|Avoid infections.||Don’t do unnecessary physical activity.|
|Take your full course of antibiotics.||Don’t eat food that can make you constipated.|
|Be patient & get plenty of rest.||Don’t smoke.|
|Prepare & freeze meals before surgery.||Don’t ignore complications.|
|Move around.||Don’t go back to work before you’re ready.|
Who Would Benefit from Ongoing Pain Management?
Constant and debilitating pain after surgery easily distracts a person from living and enjoying their lives. Obviously, if your quality of life is compromised, you will feel miserable. So, if you find it difficult to bring your pain under control, you’ll certainly benefit from visiting a pain management clinic.
Here are the categories of people who would benefit most from ongoing pain management.
- For those who experience chronic headaches or migraine – Pain management therapies help significantly with headaches and migraines. Tailored treatment plans, including prescription medications for migraines and different headaches, reduce patients’ discomfort. Preventative drugs help people who suffer from severe migraines that last beyond 24 hours.
- Patients experiencing back pain – Those who experience back pain need a comprehensive pain management plan that identifies the pain’s source. It also helps them to recover faster following the surgery. Pain management techniques for these people can be grouped under various categories like non-invasive techniques that include physical therapy and medications which are pharmacologic in nature.
- People with cancer pain – The post-surgery pain management plan for cancer patients is personal to them, made in a manner that can work for them and their families. Regular intake of pain medications works significantly to minimize different kinds of cancer-related pain. Temporary nerve blocks also provide short-term postoperative pain relief. Nerve ablation can last much longer. Spinal stimulation and intraspinal pumps are the ultimate solution for major chronic pain.
- People with arthritis pain – Arthritis pain is widespread, with one in five Americans getting diagnosed with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pain management plans for these patients depend on the kind of arthritis, the health needs of specific patients, the extent of the pain, and symptoms in other body parts. The treatment ranges from home remedies like the application of cold and heat to inflamed joints, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications to physical therapy.
- Pain resulting from nerve damage – A majority of individuals having surgery sustain a kind of acute post-surgical pain for a short while. Treatment for chronic post-surgical nerve pain includes the administration of pain relievers, topical medications, and injections like nerve blocks. A structured plan of physical therapy and rehabilitation relieves persistent pain resulting from nerve damage. Major nerve damage can be successfully treated with spinal cord stimulation.
Prepare a Pain Management Strategy Before Your Surgery with APC!
Post-surgery pain, if neglected or left untreated, can engulf a person’s life. It drastically limits their ability to engage in activities and enjoy life to the maximum. So, it’s time to stop letting your pain keep you feeling exhausted.
We at Advanced Pain Care fully understand how overwhelming post-surgical pain can be. To this end, we develop patient-centric and result-oriented treatment plans that go beyond just medications. Our multimodal approach to pain management has proved highly effective for countless patients dealing with different types of post-surgery pain.
Advanced Pain Care believes in empowering its patients with the right knowledge so they become capable of taking charge of their pain. Besides treatment plans, we provide our patients with resources like educational brochures and booklets. This enables them to take the correct steps when it comes to dealing with pain effectively.
You can step into any of our state-of-the-art facilities in the Greater Austin Area (512-244-4272), Amarillo (806-350-7918), and Killeen (254-741-6641). We also have our advanced surgical centers in Austin, Amarillo, and Round Rock. You can book an appointment online with our pain experts or call us at a location convenient to you. We accept insurance from significant in-network carriers, behavioral health networks, and Workers Compensation Certified Networks. To get a highly tailored post-surgery pain management plan backed by advanced technologies and our decades of experience, visit APC.
Mark T. Malone, M.D., is a Board Certified pain specialist and a native Texan. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and went on to attend the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Malone attended Baylor College of Medicine… View Profile