Surgery is a significant trauma on your body, and even if you’re prescribed painkillers to help decrease pain as you recover, you’re still going to be dealing with a range of pain and discomfort as healing runs its course. However, if you set up a pain management plan prior to your operation, you’ll be better equipped to handle pain and have a better chance at decreasing discomfort soon after surgery. Below, we share how doctors and patients can help manage pain after surgery by developing a care plan early on in the process.
How Doctors Should Prepare Their Patients For Post-Op Pain
Your doctor plays a key role in helping you get past any post-op pain, and this begins well before you go under the knife. For starters, your doctor needs to help ensure you have realistic expectations about the operation and your projected outcomes. Not only should doctors explain what to expect from a pain standpoint, but they’ll also want to cover rehab expectations. For example, while physical therapy may be painful in the short-term, it can help to improve flexibility and decrease pain in the long-term, so these trade-offs should be discussed so the patient knows that some parts of their rehab may be uncomfortable. If a patient has unrealistic expectations or isn’t willing to commit to their rehab, their pain may feel stronger or linger longer.
Another thing doctors will want to do is to ensure the patient knows that they are there as a resource during the patient’s recovery. If the patient feels like something is wrong, like their recovery is stalling or they aren’t sure on how to best manage their medications, all you need to do is reach out to a member of our team. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have, and education is a great way to help deal with pain because it’ll help you understand how to best manage your condition.
Finally, doctors should also consult with their patients to see how they have managed pain in the past, especially if they have undergone previous surgeries. What areas of pain care did you struggle with, or how were you best able to control pain? Learning from your past experiences can help us alleviate pain as you progress through your next rehab.
How Patients Can Prepare
Patients can also do some things prior to surgery to help them manage the pain that will persist in the future. Aside from getting on the same page with your doctor by following the above points and understanding how to manage your medications after surgery, you’ll also want to:
Prepare some distractions – Mentally engaging exercises like crossword puzzles, reading or even conversation with loved ones can help take your mind off your pain. Have some distractions nearby so you can help take your mind off your discomfort as you recover.
Stick to your rehab – Even though physical therapy and your rehab exercises may be painful at the moment, they are great for pain control and mobility in the long run. Make sure you understand what will be asked of you after surgery so you can mentally prepare for it afterwards.
Express your concerns – Also, if you have any concerns about potential painkillers, be it about allergic reactions or a possible dependency issue, bring your concerns up to your doctor. We may not have access to certain medical records, so if you are afraid that painkillers could lead to a relapse, talk to your doctor about alternatives to pain medications.
Get healthy – Finally, while you may not be able to change your total body health in the short time before surgery, any little bit helps when it comes to pain care and your recovery. If you can drop a few pounds and ensure your body is getting a range of healthy vitamins and minerals, it will be better able to handle the trauma of surgery. Every pound you drop takes pressure off your recovering joints and muscles, so work towards a healthy weight prior to your operation.
If you keep these tips in mind, we’re confident you’ll be best able to control pain after an operation. For more tips, head on over to the AAOS’s website.