Postoperative pain

Postoperative Pain: Causes, Management, and Prevention

Postoperative pain is one of the most common types of pain that patients experience after having surgery. Aside from being uncomfortable and unpleasant, postoperative pain can also severely affect the recovery process, which is why it’s so important to identify the causes of postoperative pain and take steps to manage and even prevent it.

Causes of Postoperative Pain

The primary cause of postoperative pain is tissue damage that has occurred during surgery. In a majority of cases, postoperative pain results from the cutting and separating of tissue during an incision, as well as the potential stretching of tissue due to the repositioning of the patient’s body. In some cases, postoperative pain can also result from damage or irritation that occurs when the surgical tools are inserted into the body. Pain can also result from postoperative condition such as muscle or joint stiffness, bladder spasms, wound swelling, or infections.

Managing Postoperative Pain

Managing postoperative pain can involve a number of different approaches, both during surgery and in the weeks after the procedure. Some of the most common methods for managing postoperative pain include:

  • Administering pain-relieving medications, such as non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Applying cold packs or heat packs to the affected area.
  • Using physical therapy and massage to increase circulation to the area and reduce muscle stiffness.
  • Administering nerve blocks to block pain signals from reaching the brain.

Preventing Postoperative Pain

In many cases, postoperative pain can be prevented or at least minimized through different strategies. One of the most effective strategies is to work closely with your surgeon to ensure that the surgery is as minimally invasive as possible. Another way to help prevent postoperative pain is to take steps to increase the overall flexibility of the area before the surgery, such as by receiving pre-operative physical therapy or stretching exercises. Additionally, many people find that remaining active during their recovery and avoiding excessive alcohol and smoking helps with minimizing and preventing postoperative pain.