The build up to your surgery is a nerve-wracking time. You might not be thinking about how you’ll feel after the surgery because you’re concentrating so hard on the surgery itself. But it’s after your surgery when the real recovery begins. Whether you’ve had a cesarean section or an operation on your knee, you need to allow yourself time to heal afterwards. Post-surgery isn’t just about resting though. Often you need to combine plenty of rest with a routine to get you up and moving about. One of the things you will most likely have to deal with after surgery is post-surgery pain. Some pain is usually normal and feeling a bit of pain can help you to heal. But there are also several options for pain relief to help you with your recovery.
Intravenous (IV) and Intramuscular (IM) Pain Medication
Immediately after having major surgery, your doctor may administer intravenous or intramuscular pain medication. These medications, injected into either a vein or muscle, will help to dull your pain. It won’t always rid you of your pain completely. Feeling some pain helps doctors to monitor your recovery more closely. Many hospitals offer Patient Controlled Analgesia. This option allows you to control the administration of your medication with a button.
Sometimes doctors use local anesthesia to manage pain in a surgical incision. Local anesthetics provide pain relief in a small, localized area.
With epidural analgesia, the doctor administers the medication through a catheter in the epidural space in your spinal canal. These are often used for labor and sometimes for operations, such as cesareans or major abdominal surgery. Sometimes the doctor leaves the catheter in place for several days after the surgery to help control post-surgery pain.
If you have undergone minor surgery or are on your way home, your doctor may put you on an oral form of the opioids given intravenously. These pills can work well for severe pain, but you should watch out for side effects. These can include nausea and drowsiness.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs include over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. They reduce swelling and soreness and are useful for treating minor pain. Your doctor could prescribe them after a minor surgery or to use together with opioids to reduce the side effects.
Alternatives to Pain Medications
Some people would rather not take pain medication once they return home. In these cases, there are alternative ways to try and relieve pain. For example, some people believe that acupuncture can help with pain relief and recovery. There are other alternative or complementary medicines that you may wish to use. But you will need to research each of them and decide if you think they will work for you.
You should start thinking about your post-surgery pain relief before you undergo surgery. Discuss your options with your doctor and be honest about any addictions that could affect the pain relief you receive. After surgery, be honest about the pain you feel and don’t ignore side effects.