Pain control for surgical procedures and quality of life
Well-controlled pain can speed healing, lead to fewer complications and better quality of life. Pain can be caused by any number of surgical procedures, arthritis, diabetes, back problems, migraine headaches, cancer or other long-term illness.
Anesthesiologists, doctors specially trained in pain management, with The Christ Hospital Health Network understand pain’s role in how emotionally and physically draining pain can be for you and your loved ones. That’s why they are a part of medical teams throughout the Network.
The goal of an anesthesiologist is finding the right balancing pain medication as well as its risk and benefits. Too much pain can cause sleepiness, nausea and vomiting, but too little can cause pain that limits your ability to breathe deeply, cough, walk and perform other necessary activities to speed recovery.
Discuss your pain
It’s important to talk to your doctor about your previous experiences with different pain control methods, mentioning what worked and what didn’t.
If you have chronic pain, talk about the pain medications you are taking. It is most helpful to make a list of your medications, including all prescription and over-the-counter medications, plus any supplements or herbs, and share the list with your doctor. This is important if you have surgery coming up and they have to determine any potential interactions with surgical or post-surgical pain medications.
If you are experiencing any pain tolerance – when your body may be less sensitive to certain pain medications – tell them about it.
Tell your doctor if you're a recovering alcoholic or have a history of alcoholism or other addiction so they can plan pain control that minimizes the risk of relapse. If you're currently misusing alcohol or drugs — even those that have been prescribed for you — let your doctor know. Withdrawing from these substances can be difficult, and the post-surgical period is not the time to try it.
Be sure to ask any questions you may have about the type of pain medications they are planning to give you, what side effects these medications have and what can be done to minimize the side effects. It would also be appropriate to ask how severe the pain typically is following the types of surgeries, and how long it will last.
Discuss your concerns about pain medications. 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, such as combining medications or using patient-controlled analgesia — a system that allows you to give yourself a dose of pain medication by pushing a button. And, if you’ve ever experienced sleepiness, constipation, nausea, itching or other side effects of pain medications, speak to your doctor about those things so a different pain medication or dose can be used to reduce uncomfortable side effects.
Controlling your pain is important to them, so be honest about the pain how you feel. Let your doctors and nurses know how much pain your in, 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.
When your pain is under control, you can focus on the important work of healing. So this isn't the time to test your pain tolerance, or grin and bear it. Work with your health care team to make your recovery as prompt and pain-free as possible.
Types of pain control
The type of pain medication you receive may depend partially on the type of surgery you have because the intensity of pain and the effectiveness of certain drugs varies by surgery.