6 Guidelines for Managing Pain After Surgery

managing your pain post surgery

Are you suffering from back pain as a result of an auto accident, sports injury or degenerative disease? If you’re considering back surgery, one of your biggest concerns may be how to deal with postsurgical pain. Many people don’t prepare for the kind of pain they’ll have after their back operation, which can result in additional suffering.

CSC offers six basic guidelines on how to manage post-surgical pain, along with some considerations and warnings.

Know What to Expect

You need to know what you can expect regarding postsurgical pain. Ask your surgeon and pain management specialist about the types of pain you’ll most likely encounter from your specific kind of surgery, in addition to how long the pain will probably last.

Know the Side Effects from Taking Pain Medications

Ask your doctor about the possible side effects of pain medications. For example, opioids, which are common postsurgical pain medications, can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation and urinary retention, along with other problems that may prolong your healing process. Too often, people don’t discuss medication side effects with their doctors, so they stop taking their medications, which can be a mistake.

Keep Ahead of Your Pain

Don’t wait too long to take your pain medications. Unfortunately, back surgery patients often hesitate to take their meds instead of taking it ahead of time. In other words, take your pain killers before the pain actually sets in and gets worse since it can be hard to control it once it’s begun.

Stick to Your Pain Medication Schedule

Don’t get off your medication schedule. You want to keep the medications flowing consistently throughout your body to help your pain level stay at a more manageable and even level.

Do Simple Stretching Exercises

Scar tissue formation following back surgery is a normal part of the healing process. However, pain from scar tissue is rare since scar tissue doesn’t have any nerve endings that can cause pain. But when scar tissue develops near the nerve root (epidural fibrosis), the pressure is placed on the nerve root, which creates pain. Stretching the nerve root after back surgery can help in keeping the nerve mobile as the wound heals. By not keeping the nerve mobile, the nerve will be bound with adhesions, which can be uncomfortable. Ask your doctor about some simple postsurgical stretching exercises that help decrease scarring discomfort. One of the best stretching exercises is ankle pumps. Make sure you don’t do any type of exercise before consulting your doctor or a physical therapist.

Don't Take Pain Meds Longer than Needed

If you have chronic pain, it can be tempting to rely on your medication for longer than you should. As a result, you can develop a condition known as medication tolerance and the drugs won’t be as effective as they once were at blocking pain. Even worse, you could develop an opioid addiction.

Other Considerations & Warnings

  • The length and intensity or postsurgical pain can depend on several factors. These include those, such as your overall health, pain tolerance, and the specific type of surgery.
  • Don’t try to toughen out your pain. Instead, discuss your pain with your doctor and nurses, whether it’s a pain at the incision site or anywhere else in your body. Be as descriptive as possible as to the location and amount of pain.
  • If you feel depressed or anxious, which are very common conditions in back surgery patients, don’t be afraid to get help. Ask about the different therapies that are available. By failing to treat depression and anxiety, your pain can become worse and last longer.