Pain relief after minor surgery and during home recovery through medication

Your doctor will provide you with instructions for general post-surgical care, such as rest, ice packs, rehabilitative exercises, and wound care. Ask to have written instructions to bring home with you.

For minor surgeries, these instructions may be the primary means for pain management. After a major surgery, they will help you with a more comfortable transition off medication.

You will likely switch to oral pain medications before leaving the hospital and continue to take them at home to manage pain. You will probably take a combination of drugs in pill form, which may include the following:

  • Opioids
  • Acetaminophen
  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen

Be sure to understand what active ingredient is in each pain medication, what the appropriate dose is, and how frequently to take your medication. Also ask your doctor about possible interactions with over-the-counter drugs you might use, such as cold medicine, or other prescription medications or supplements you regularly take.

Your role in pain control

After surgery, work with your health care team to make your recovery as prompt and pain-free as possible. You’ll need to communicate with your doctors and nurses to help them assess and adjust the pain management plan.

  • Be honest about the pain you feel after surgery. Let your doctors and nurses know how much it hurts, where it hurts, and what activities or positions make it better or worse. Your health care team will want to know the intensity of pain on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine. The more specific you can be, the better your doctors can help you.
  • Don’t ignore side effects. Tell your care team if you experience sleepiness, constipation, nausea or other side effects of the medications. Different pain medication or dose can sometimes reduce uncomfortable side effects, and these side effects can often be treated and relieved.

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