Pain Relief After Surgery

Pain Relief After Surgery
  • Remember: Pain is part of the normal healing process after surgery.
  • The pain will improve day-by-day.
  • To get the work done we have cut through healthy tissue.  Your body needs time to heal.
  • The first few days are the worst.  Things will continue to heal and improve the entire next year.
  • If you're not sure about your pain level, check with your surgeon for reassurance and to rule out a rare problem.  
  • The evidence is strong: the best pain reliever is peace of mind.  So check on any concerns, then settle in as your body makes its way through the healing process.

Getting comfortable 

Try one or more of the following:

  • Try to take as little opioid pain medication as possible (e.g. oxycodone, hydrocodone).
  • If there is no acetaminophen in the opioid pills, add acetaminophen (Tylenol) – either 2 extra strength every 6 hours around the clock or 2 regular strength every four hours around the clock for two days.  Don't take more than 4 grams (4000 milligrams) of acetaminophen in a day.
  • Add ibuprofen 600 or 800 mg (3 or 4 over the counter pills) every 6 hours around the clock for two days.  According to current best evidence, this is safe for your bones.
  • Stagger the Tylenol and ibuprofen so that you're taking one or the other every three hours.
  • Elevate the surgical area
  • Apply ice (bag of ice wrapped in a towel; 10 minutes on, 5 minutes off, repeat)

If you had a nerve block:

  • When your block is wearing off, you might feel like you need to "catch up":  You can take the stronger pain reliever every three hours for the next three doses.

When should I get concerned?
  • Pain makes us wonder if everything is OK
  • Problems after surgery are uncommon.  Your surgeon can tell you what to look for.
  • If you think you might have a problem, call or page your surgeon or a member of the team. 


PAIN MANAGEMENT DISCUSSED             Yes  ☐          No  ☐

PROMIS pain interference: __________

PROMIS depression: _________

Opioid risk tool: _____________

☐ Daily opioid use     ☐ Methadone             ☐ Suboxone


PLAN:  _______________________________________________________________

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