Pain after Surgery
No matter how minimally invasive or minor the surgical procedure, there will always be a degree of pain once the procedure is over and the anesthesia has worn off. Pain is of course very uncomfortable; however it is also an important part of recovery. The type and degree of pain can be very instructive as to how the recovery is progressing. For example, serious and continual pain can be the sign of a problem that needs to be addressed immediately by your physician.
One very important consideration of pain after surgery is how it’s managed – specifically the type of medication used. Depending on the procedure, you may be sent home with ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or stronger drugs such as Vicodin or Percocet, which are narcotic pain killers. While we try our best to minimize the pain that you feel, it is also important to remember that you may not always need the strongest drug in your arsenal. Sometimes, if the pain is not debilitating, taking the ibuprofen rather than Percocet is the best move. The reasons for this are three-fold:
- First, all narcotics slow down your GI tract. This may lead to varying degrees of constipation. If you do take pain medication, make sure you are also taking a stool softener. Don’t wait until constipation develops – start taking the stool softener as soon as you start taking the pain medication.
- Also, narcotic drugs will undoubtedly have an effect on your ability to perform certain activities including driving or operating machinery.
- Further, narcotic prescription drugs can be addictive and some patients trying to manage their pain with the best of intentions end up abusing their prescription and starting down a slippery slope of substance abuse.
You’ll be happy to know that minimally invasive surgery does generally translate into less pain after surgery when compared to an open surgery that requires a large single incision. You will experience pain, of that there is no doubt, the challenge however is to manage that pain responsibly in order to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.