Pain is a feeling of discomfort that will vary from person to person. Each person feels pain differently and responds to pain differently. The providers at TBSI – Neurosurgery want patients to play an active role in controlling their pain postoperatively.
Severe pain after surgery is not “just something you have to put up with.” Today there are many options and medications to treat postoperative pain. Pain control helps you heal faster, feel better and decrease the chance of postoperative problems. There are many types of pain medication. This medication can be placed into categories of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic medications, non-narcotic pain medication or typical medication.
Narcotic pain medication is used for control of moderate to severe pain on a short term basis. These medications are effective for pain control after surgery. Some common names for these medications are Darvocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Vicoprophen or any of the Tylenol’s with codeine. These medications are generally well tolerated. The most common complaints of side effects are drowsiness, constipation and/or nausea. You should not drive while taking these medications.
Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory or other non-narcotic medication can reduce the swelling and soreness as well as relieve mild to moderate pain. These medications are Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (Ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen). There are also prescription non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications. The benefit of these medications is that there is no worry of addiction. These medications can lessen the need for stronger medication and in some cases eliminate the need for narcotic pain medication altogether.
Just as there are many medications for pain, there are many ways to take this medication for pain relief. Tablet or liquid medications tend to last longer and cause less discomfort than injections. Once discharged from the hospital, only tablet or liquid medication can be prescribed. Injections for pain control should only be given in the hospital to monitor pain relief and for possible unfavorable reactions.
Over the postoperative period you are encouraged to use pain medication only as needed and not on a routine basis. Routine use of pain medication will cause you to become tolerant and this medication will not work as well over time. As time progresses, you should be able to decrease use of pain medication.