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Your pain control plan is important and special options that are best for you will be discussed before your surgery.

Pain control tip

  • Pain is personal, the amount of pain you feel may not be the same as others feel, even for those who have had the same surgery.
  • It is important to have effective pain relief after your surgery. Pain should not prevent you from resting, deep breathing and coughing, moving and walking comfortably.
  • Report your pain. Please read the section in Pain Management After Surgery book on how to describe your pain.
  • If you have been living with pain, fill out the Brief Pain Inventory the day before your surgery and bring to the Hospital.
  • It is often necessary to use more than one type of pain medicine to give you the best pain management and reduce the side effects. By taking Tylenol and an anti-inflammatory together, these can give better pain relief and with fewer side effects. They should be used before stronger medicine (opioids) is needed.
  • Other pain methods used to manage your pain depends on the type of surgery, length of time in hospital, and discussions with your anesthesiologist and surgeon.
Pain Control After Surgery

See Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet for more information.

Methods of Pain Management

Pain control methods after surgery may also include:

  • IV PCA
  • Spinal Anesthetic
  • Epidural
  • Regional Block
  • By Mouth

For each of the methods used, Tylenol and an anti-inflammatory are also given on a regular basis unless contraindicated. As the method used begins to wear off or if is being weaned off, pain may increase. Stronger pain medicine (opioid) will be available to take by mouth as needed.

See page 4-7 of  Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet.

PCAIntravenous Patient Controlled Analgesia  (IV PCA) pump

Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is a method of pain control that allows the patient to control their pain by pressing a button on the handset of a pump. The pump then gives a small amount of medicine, through a small plastic tube placed in the vein (intravenous). PCA works quickly and is therefore helpful to have after surgery for pain caused by coughing, getting out of bed, walking.

See page 9-10 of Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet.

Spinal Anesthetic

Spinal anesthesia is used for some surgeries, for example, surgery on hip, knee and lower abdomen. A small thin needle is placed between the bones in the back and into the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. Medicine is then injected and then the needle is removed. The medicines used are local anesthetic (freezing) and opioids. After surgery, it is normal to feel numbness around the lower abdomen and legs and not be able to move the legs for up to 4 hours.  If a long acting opioid like morphine is used, pain relief can last up to 24 hours.

See page 10-11 of Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet.

Epidural Analgesia

Epidural analgesia is used for acute pain with some surgeries and injuries, for example, chest surgery, bowel surgery, broken ribs.  With an epidural, a small plastic tube is placed between the bones in the back and into the epidural space. This is a small space close to the spinal cord. The tube is taped to the back, covered with a dressing and then attached to a pump. The pump sends the pain medicine on a constant basis. The medicines used are local anesthetic (freezing) and opioids. It is normal to feel numbness around the incision when local anesthetic is used. Epidurals are usually in place for 2 – 3 days.

See page 11-12 of Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet.

Nerve Blocks

A nerve block involves using local anesthetic (freezing) in which the nerve or nerves to the shoulder, arm, leg, foot or trunk (chest and abdomen) are blocked. The local anesthetic stop nerves from sending pain messages to the brain. Nerve blocks can be a single dose or continuous (constant). Depending on the type of block, a single dose nerve block, can last 12 – 24 hours.  With continuous nerve blocks, a small plastic tube is placed near the nerves to the affected area. The tube is taped to the skin, covered with a dressing and then attached to a pump. The pump gives a constant flow of local anesthetic. The tube is usually in place 2-3 days.

See page 12-13 of Pain Management After Surgery Patient Education Booklet.

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