Post-operative pain (as a result of surgery) is usually considered normal. However, when poorly controlled, the pain can cause increased heart and respiratory rate, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, urinary retention, and elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels, or reduced immune response and increased risk of infection.
What are the causes?
Uncontrolled pain is similar to uncontrolled fear in that it promotes a “fight or flight” reaction. This reaction tends to delay wound healing and increases the complication rate including infection.
Is post-operative pain preventable?
Probably not entirely in most cases. But controllable, yes, in all cases.
What treatment options are available?
Education as to the nature of the surgery or procedure is very important in order to minimize fear and anxiety pre-operatively.
The following have all been shown to reduce post-operative pain and surgical infection, and hasten wound healing:
- use of non-steriod anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen preoperatively
- injection of local anesthetic into the wound prior to suturing
- more liberal prescription of post-operative analgesics
- use of intra- and post-operative epidural infusions for complex surgeries
Numerous studies also demonstrate the effectiveness of relaxation techniques, such as hypnosis and massage therapy in reducing post-operative pain.
When should I call PainCare?
The optimal time to call us is several weeks in advance of the anticipated sugery, when you and your surgeon are concerned with post-operative pain management and wish to prevent the negative impact of “fight or flight” reaction on complex wound healing.