Before Your Surgery
Before your surgery, you will have one or several appointments with your doctor (surgeon or other specialist) to discuss the details of your procedure, your health and potentially run some tests (for example, blood tests and scans). One of these appointments will be your pre-op assessment.
Your pre-op assessment
This is a great opportunity to get more comfortable about what is coming up. Think about any questions you may have in advance so that you leave the meeting feeling informed.
Knowing what to expect - pain
You are likely to experience discomfort or pain after surgery. It is often called post-operative pain or ‘acute pain’ – pain that is expected to last for only a limited amount of time.
There are various medication options available to you to help tackle acute pain:
- Common painkillers
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which tackle inflammation as well as pain
- Opioids, which offer powerful pain relief and are only available by prescription
There are also non-pharmaceutical options to tackle pain after surgery, including cold therapy and massage.
The medications may be delivered in different ways and combinations:
Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia
Here, you are in charge of when you receive your intravenous (iv) pain relief, called patient-controlled analgesia (or PCA).
Injected in the back (specifically the space that surrounds the spinal cord) to numb the nerves.
Sublingual patient-controlled analgesia
A recent innovation, whereby you are in charge of administering your pain relief, taking the tablets as and when you need them.
Monitoring your pain
Your healthcare team will work with you to manage your pain immediately after your surgery; for example, they may ask you to rate your pain from 0 to 10 using what is called a pain scale.
Start the discussion about pain management early to ensure that you get the best possible treatment and return to your normal day-to-day activities sooner. Remember, managing your pain can help to speed up your recovery and get you home quicker.