Pain Management

Your doctor will prescribe pain medications to help control your pain. Be sure to take them as directed before pain becomes severe.

Types of pain medications include:

For mild to moderate pain:
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Alleve). These can come in both prescription and over-the-counter forms.
For moderate to severe pain:
  • Opiates such morphine and levorphanol

Before you are discharged, your care team will periodically ask you to evaluate your level of pain on a 10 point scale (10 being the worst). Let a member of the care team know if your medication needs to be adjusted.

Before discharge let a member of the care team, or after discharge, your surgeon know if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever above 100°F
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Redness, pus, or discharge from the surgical site

Common side effects of pain medications are stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. If you are able, eat a little before taking pain medications to help with stomach upset. Eating fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water can help to prevent or reduce constipation.

After surgery, some patients experience throat discomfort which can lead to coughing that can make pain at the surgical site worse. Placing a pillow or more than one pillow over the surgical site can help to ease pain when coughing.

Ask your surgeon or a member of the care team about alternate methods of managing pain such as heat or cold compresses, or relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

Before discharge, be sure to ask your surgeon the following questions:

  • When to take pain medications
  • When and if to change bandages
  • When to eat
  • What activities you can do
  • When it is safe to take a bath
  • When to call him or her
  • When to return for a checkup.