Before surgery you will likely have a discussion with your surgeon or other members of your care team about pain management, treatment options and your particular needs. This conversation may include the following ideas:
- Pain expectations. Ask your doctor about pain typically associated with the procedure and the expected duration of recovery.
- Previous experiences with pain. Talk to your doctor about your experience with pain and different methods of pain control. Mention what has worked for you and what hasn’t in the past.
- Chronic pain. If you take drugs to treat chronic pain, your body may be less sensitive to pain medication. Your doctor will discuss options for treating both chronic pain and post-surgical pain.
- List of your medications. Include all prescription and over-the-counter medications plus any supplements or herbs you’ve taken in the past month. Your doctor needs to know about anything that might interact with post-surgical pain medications. You may need to change your drug regimen before and after surgery.
- Alcohol and drug use. Accurately describe your current use of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs. Your doctor needs to know if you are recovering from an addiction to — or currently misuse — alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications, in order to plan and monitor your pain management.
- Side effects. Ask for written information about the drugs you will be prescribed and their side effects. Ask questions about what can be done to minimize side effects and when to get help for serious side effects.
- Additional pain management. Ask your doctor about interventions that may support your treatment plan, such as psychobehavioral interventions to address anxiety or coping skills.
- Discussion of your concerns. If you’re afraid of side effects or overdosing on pain medications, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you understand strategies to safely manage your pain.