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Pain: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much pain will I have?

Pain control is important to us. We will try to make sure you have as little pain as possible after surgery. Pain varies from person to person. Two people having the same kind of surgery may have different amounts of pain. Pain treatment sometimes starts before surgery.

It will always be continued after surgery. Your nurse will monitor your pain in the Recovery Room, and give you medications when needed.

Why will I have pain after surgery?

Pain after surgery may be due to:
  • The cutting of the skin and tissues
  • Drainage tubes
  • Muscle soreness from the position in which your body was during surgery

Where will I have pain?

Pain is most often in the area of the surgery. Ask your doctor or nurse where you may expect to have pain.

Why is it important to decrease pain after surgery?

With less pain, moving and breathing is easier. By moving after surgery, you may avoid problems that can delay your recovery. Getting out of bed and walking after surgery keeps your muscles strong and prevents blood clotting. Deep breathing after surgery helps prevent lung problems.

When should I tell the nurse about my pain?

  • When you start to have pain
  • If your pain medication does not help
  • If your type of pain changes

The nurse may ask you how much pain you have on a scale of 0-10 (0 being no pain, and 10 being the worst pain you can think of).

What medication will I get for my pain?

Medication containing an opiod (morphine or similar drug) is usually given for pain after surgery. This medication may be given by a needle or through your IV at first. Once you start to drink or eat, pain pills are given.

Some patient's are ordered a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA). The pump will deliver small amounts of pain medication into your IV when you push the PCA button. The goal is to give you the right amount of medication to relieve your pain without making you feel sleepy or sick.

There is a safety feature on the PCA pump called a 'lockout'. If you push the button within your 'lockout' time, you will NOT receive a dose. This is to prevent you from getting too much medication too quickly. You can push the button as often as you need, to a maximum of once every 5 minutes.

It is important to remember that you are the only person who is allowed to push your button! Although your family and friends may think that you are having pain, they MUST NOT push the button for you.
When you are on PCA, the Pain Team will visit you daily to make sure that your pain is managed.

Do pain medications have side effects?

Some side effects are constipation, nausea, itching, dizziness or drowsiness. Tell your Nurse if you have any
of these symptoms.

Can I become addicted to pain medication?

People seldom become addicted to medication taken for pain after surgery. Unless you have had a problem with drug addiction, there is very little chance of you getting addicted to the pain medication provided to you while in hospital. If you have or had a problem with drug addiction, let your doctor know.

What can I do to decrease pain?

  • Take your pain medication 30 minutes to 1 hour before doing activity that will increase your pain
  • Do not wait until you have severe pain before you use or ask for pain medication
  • If your pain is 4/10 or greater — you need to tell your Nurse so that they can help you
  • Change your position in bed; ask your nurse if you need help
  • If you had surgery in the area of your stomach or chest, hold a pillow against your incision while you do breathing and coughing exercises.
  • If you have gas pain, walk at least 3 times per day
  • Try reading, watching television, listening to music, talking on the telephone, or other quiet activities