Although most patients will have some pain after surgery, that pain should last for a short time (acute postoperative pain). In some cases, it can last long after the surgery, sometimes for months or even years. This is called chronic (long-lasting) postoperative pain. It is very important to manage the pain.
Why is pain control so important?
In addition to keeping you comfortable, pain control can help speed your recovery and may reduce your risk of developing certain complications after surgery, such as pneumonia and blood clots. If your pain is well controlled, you will be better able to complete important tasks, such as walking and deep breathing exercises.
What kind of pain will I feel after surgery?
- Muscle pain: You may feel muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, back, or chest from lying on the operating table
- Throat pain: Your throat may feel sore or scratchy
- Movement pain: Sitting up, walking, and coughing are all important activities after surgery, but they may cause increased pain at or around the incision site
What can I do to help keep my pain under control?
- Get active
- Avoid opioid pain pills whenever possible
- Adjust your expectations
What is chronic post-surgical pain?
Chronic pain is normally considered to be pain that persists or keeps coming back for more than three months or for longer than the expected healing time. Chronic pain that develops after an operation is often known as ‘chronic or persistent post-surgical pain’.
Knowing when pain becomes chronic after surgery is especially difficult because many people have had their surgery to treat a painful condition, such as a painful hernia or a long-standing back problem. Is the pain simply a continuation of the old pain, or is it new? And, even if it is new, is it related to the surgery?
Sometimes it is obvious that something has changed – nerve damage after an operation for hernia repair can be quite different from the discomfort felt before the operation. Another example is persistent tingling nerve pain in the chest wall after heart bypass surgery, which is very different from angina pain experienced before heart surgery.
We now understand more about nerve pain or ‘neuropathic pain’ which can arise from nerve injury. Typical characteristics and descriptions of neuropathic pain include stabbing, tingling, numbness, altered sensations and problems with sensitivity. It is not always possible to avoid nerve damage during an operation, especially during cancer surgery when removal of the tumour takes priority.
To discuss your pain management plan and options, book a consultation with our doctors today. Call +36 1 733 3444.