Managing Pain After Surgery
Dealing with post-surgery pain begins before your operation.
Start Before Surgery continued...
Stay ahead of your pain. A common mistake people make, according to
Fraifeld, is waiting too long to take pain medication. By the time you’re in
pain, you’re starting from behind the eight ball. "It takes a lot more medicine
to control pain after it’s started as opposed to starting it ahead of time," he
Stick to the medication schedule set by the doctor. That will keep
medication flowing through your system and your level of pain at a more even
and manageable level.
Conditions that Complicate Pain Management
Pre-existing medical conditions can complicate pain management after
surgery. According to Fraifeld, there are a few conditions that commonly
interfere with post-surgical pain management.
If you have a chronic pain condition, your body may be under additional
stress because following surgery you’ll likely feel the pain you’ve been
experiencing, as well as pain associated with the surgery.
In addition, people with chronic pain conditions often take medication to
manage it. Long-term use of pain medication can lead to medication tolerance,
meaning the drugs don’t work as well as they once did to block pain and that
greater dosages are needed to get the same effect. This makes post-surgery
discomfort much more difficult to manage. With prior knowledge of your
condition, Fraifeld says, your doctor has the opportunity to coordinate with
other care providers managing your chronic pain and to choose medications that
will help to keep you comfortable.
Often, for fear of being stigmatized, people with addiction issues will keep
very quiet about it, leaving their doctor in the dark.
It is common for people recovering from addiction to refuse opioid
treatment, Fraifeld says. Those being treated for addiction with methadone can
also face more difficulty controlling their pain after surgery. Without prior
knowledge, Fraifeld says, doctors often scratch their heads in confusion
wondering why their efforts to manage someone’s pain are not working.
Tell your surgeon about addiction issues ahead of time, so that they can
work with the maintenance program treating your addiction to manage your pain
while controlling the level of narcotics you’re being given.