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 says.
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.