Whether you are preparing for a simple outpatient procedure or major surgery that requires an extensive hospital stay, there are some important questions you should ask your physician about postoperative pain management. Most people want to know about the extent of discomfort they can expect to feel after surgery and how the doctor will manage it. You should ask if pain medication will be prescribed and what the dosing regimen will be. There may also be certain things you will be able to do for yourself to make recovery more comfortable; heating pads or ice pack applications, for example, may be recommended to ease discomfort.
Effective postoperative pain management can actually help patients heal more quickly in most cases. Following surgery, doctors sometimes provide their patients with an intravenous (IV) drip of medication, such as morphine, attached to a machine that controls the dosage. It gives the patient more control over postoperative pain management. Medicine is self-administered when the patient needs it, eliminating the need to buzz the nurse when discomfort becomes unbearable. You can ask your physician if this is a viable option for you.
It is important to heed your doctor's advice and follow instructions carefully. You may want to take notes so that you remember what he tells you later. When you leave the hospital or outpatient facility, a nurse will probably provide you with discharge instructions and a prescription for pain medication. Be sure you understand the dosing regimen. If you take more than the recommended amount of pain medicine, you may experience unpleasant side-effects.
It is also important to inquire about other medications you take regularly and whether or not it is okay to resume them at home. Birth control pills, cholesterol medication, and even vitamins or supplements you normally take may be contraindicated with postoperative pain management therapy. Sometimes, narcotic medicine can be taken in conjunction with other prescriptions and over-the-counter pills, but not always. For example, you should generally avoid taking acetaminophen tablets if you are also taking medication that contains the same ingredient. For this reason, you should always check with the doctor first and follow directions carefully.
Pain medication can make some people feel nauseous or dizzy. Be sure you understand the possible side-effects. Your doctor may have suggestions about how you can lessen unpleasant symptoms. For example, drinking a glass of milk or consuming a small meal when taking certain medicines might make them less bothersome.
It is also important to know what type of pain you can expect to experience during the first few days following surgery. If the doctor tells you that pain should be minimal, yet you find that you are in an extraordinary amount of discomfort, you should contact your physician right away. An unexpected amount of postoperative pain can sometimes indicate complications or infection.
There may also be things that you can do at home to aid in quicker healing and reduce pain. Depending on the type of surgery you will have, you may benefit from heat or ice applications for postoperative pain management. In some cases, that type of treatment might be encouraged. Other times, it may be strictly forbidden. For this reason, you should always check with your doctor first.