With most types of surgery there is an inherent amount of pain and soreness that may occur afterward. For surgery we aim to use a multimodal approach to managing pain. We start pain management both preoperatively and intra-operatively with our anesthesia team.
Many of our surgeries involve regional anesthesia techniques such as spinal blocks and peripheral nerve blocks under ultrasound guidance which help to numb the surgical area. As surgeons we also do a local injection with different medications to dull the pain as well. Our peripheral nerve blocks for joint surgery typically wear off within a day or so.
Swelling and inflammation then tends to set in about 1-2 days after the surgery. We typically aim to treat postop pain with a host of different medications that work via different mechanisms and on different pain receptors in your body.
These medications include acetaminophen (also known as tylenol), non steroidal anti inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen, meloxicam, diclofenac, or celecoxib), neuropathic medications (such as neurontin or pregabalin), and opioids (such as tramadol or hydrocodone). Steroids and muscle relaxants can also play a role on occasion.
By targeting several different pain pathways we can effectively treat pain and help make our patients as comfortable as possible for their recovery period. If a patient is experiencing pain several weeks to months after surgery they may be referred for a chronic pain management consultation with our anesthesia-trained pain physician team.
Patients may also be referred to our pain management physicians before surgery to see if they would be candidates for minimally invasive treatments other than surgery.