You schedule back surgery to finally get rid of the pain that has kept you from doing the various things you enjoy. To think that you will have pain even after your procedure can be a disappointment. There’s good news, though. Post-surgical pain is more about the healing process, and about getting you back to a more comfortable, mobile state. Also, there are ways to manage your comfort levels in the weeks that follow your procedure.
It’s not all about Pain Meds
It goes without saying that a crucial aspect of the recovery process is managing pain. In the early days after surgery, this is achieved primarily with limited physical activity and prescription pain medication. There are several options to aid in pain management, including local anesthetics, opioids and non-opioids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Post-surgical pain management is one of the important aspects of treatment that we discuss prior to surgery. In addition to the use of appropriate pharmaceutical drugs, patients are encouraged to learn more about alternative therapies. We don’t mean acupuncture or other modalities, we mean physical coping strategies. These may include:
- Learning breathing exercises to aid in relaxation and pain control.
- Development of physically appropriate body-mechanics for walking and other movements.
- Determining how to avoid pain under certain circumstances, such as sneezing or coughing.
- Appropriate stretching techniques.
- Use of hot and cold therapy.
Anticipation is Part of the Process
If you don’t know what’s ahead, you cannot be prepared. It is important to know that pain control will be a necessity after back surgery. Understanding this enables you to stay ahead of the pain. Once you find yourself in the position of chasing it, pain could quickly become a challenging roadblock to your recovery. Some people avoid taking medication because they prefer to limit intake of pharmacological agents. In the end, though, doing so could ultimately lead to a greater need for those medications for a longer period of time. Take medications on time, without fail. You will be glad you did.
Other strategies for pain management include writing down the non-medication therapies that reduce pain and also writing down the physical movements or positions that create pain. Finally, as you begin to make your way back into the land of physical activity, go slow.