Pain After Surgery

It is common for it to hurt after an operation and therefore you get painkillers. The best thing is if you take the medicines well in advance and at regular intervals. Then you do not need to hurt unnecessarily. The healing can then take place faster and you will move faster again.

Letting go of pain also reduces the risk of complications. The body’s stress response also becomes less.

Usually in pain

Almost everyone is in pain after an operation. A  wound  has been sewn together, muscles may have split.

Pain  can be very different depending on who you are and how big the operation has been. Some are very sore, others almost not at all. How it hurts can also vary from one occasion to another. Mood, fitness, stress and if you have previously had pain can also affect how you experience the pain.

Although it is natural to have pain up to a few days after surgery, you should not have to suffer unnecessarily. There are various painkillers you can get and that can relieve.


Sometimes the pain-relieving treatment may not help, but it continues to hurt very much. Then the reason may be that a complication has occurred. For example, the cause may be bleeding or stitches have broken inside the body. For surgeries that can cause such complications, you are usually allowed to stay longer at the hospital’s emergency department. The doctor who operated then assesses what needs to be done.

Some preparations can make you feel less hurt

It is good if you prepare before the surgery to get as little pain as possible afterwards. For example, you should get clear information about what will happen. It can usually reduce the worry. You may find it less painful if you are calm and confident. Before the surgery, you also usually get sedative and analgesic drugs that will cause you less pain after the surgery.

The doctor also asks if you usually have pain and regularly use pain medication. You may then need to receive a larger dose to get good pain relief after surgery.

You can also tell if you have any other illness or hypersensitivity, if you are pregnant or if you have had any ill medication before.

The most common drugs when you are in pain

What you get depends, among other things, on how bad you are. You usually get one of the following drugs, or a couple in combination:

  • Painkillers containing the active substance paracetamol, for example Alvedon or Panodil.
  • Drugs that both relieve pain and reduce inflammation, such as tablets containing ibuprofen or naproxen. These drugs are called cox inhibitors or NSAIDs. The tablets, for example, are called Ipren and Naproxen.
  • Medicines containing the active substance morphine, codeine or oxycodone. You get them if you have a lot of pain. These drugs are called opioids. The active substances are, for example, morphine, codeine or oxycodone and the tablets may be called Citodon or Oxynorm, among others.

You can get the medicine directly into the blood or take tablets

You usually get the same type of medication, whether you are in the hospital or allowed to go home. At the hospital, it is more common for you to get the drug directly into the blood, using a syringe in the vein catheter. When you go home, it is common for you to take the drug as tablets.

Treatment of the pain in the awakening ward

You usually have to lie in an awakening ward after the operation. It is a large room where several patients are cared for simultaneously. The staff is always nearby and makes sure you are well.

Tell the staff as soon as it hurts

It is important that you tell your health care provider right away if you get sick. The earlier you receive treatment for the pain, the better. It is difficult to get a good pain relief if you have had severe pain.

You can show how hurt you are with the help of a pain reliever

It can be difficult to describe how hurt you are with words. With the help of a pain ruler you can show how hurt it is. The pain ruler has a scale called Visual Analog Scale, VAS. The ruler has a removable part that can be set along a line, where one end of the line indicates “no pain”, and the other end “worst possible pain”. In this way, the nurse can measure and monitor how well the pain relief works and quickly discover if you need more medicine.

Different ways to get pain relief

You can get pain relief in various ways at the Awakening Department, for example in one of the following ways:

  • You are given medicines in the form of tablets.
  • You get drugs directly into the blood through a small plastic tube, a so-called venous catheter, which is inserted into a blood vessel by means of a needle.
  • If you have had a  back anesthetic  prior to the operation, you may have received a small plastic tube where you received the anesthetic back. Through it, medicines can be replenished for several days.
  • You may have had a nerve block before or during surgery, which means that the nerves are numb in the area to be operated on. The pain relief can then still work for up to a day after the operation.

You can use a pump sometimes

You can take painkillers yourself with the help of a special pump. You will only get one after you have been allowed to stay in the hospital after the operation. It is unusual to have such a pump at home.

The pump is connected to a small thin plastic tube, a vein catheter, which is inserted into a blood vessel on the hand or arm using a needle. You control the pump with a button. Each time it hurts, press the button, and the pump will then deliver a dose of the drug directly into the bloodstream. It is programmed so you can’t take too much medicine.

If you have had a back anesthesia during the operation, with a thin tube in the back, a similar pump can be used.

It often goes for less pain-relieving drugs when you are allowed to control the pain relief yourself. This is partly due to the fact that the concentration of painkillers in the blood becomes more even when you can give yourself small doses if needed, than when larger doses are given at longer intervals.

When you get to go home the same day

In some surgeries, you come to the hospital in the morning and are allowed to go home the same day when the operation is complete. Then it is common for you to bring painkillers home. You also get a prescription with you, so you can buy more painkillers when they first run out.

It is important that you have good pain relief when you go home if you have been operated during the day. You should also have information on how to do at home if it hurts. The information should be in writing. Among other things, you should know who to contact if it starts to hurt more, even though you have taken all the medicines recommended by the doctor.

You can always call 911 to get   medical advice if the day surgery unit is closed. Then you will get help to assess symptoms or help with where you can seek emergency care.

Important to know about the drugs

As with all medicines, there is a risk that you will get side effects. Therefore, it is important that you tell your doctor if you have previously experienced drug side effects and if you have any illness.

Common to feel ill

It is common for you to feel ill as a side effect of painkillers. This is especially true of opioids. You will usually receive some medication during the operation to counteract the nausea. It can be difficult to find the balance between being painless and feeling unwell. Some people are more affected by side effects. Some people prefer to avoid feeling ill because they have a little pain instead.

Small risk of becoming addicted

There is a risk of becoming dependent on opioids if used for a long time. But if you use the drugs as soon as after an operation, the risk is very small that you will become addicted to them.

Some painkillers produce side effects

Not all cox inhibitors are suitable, such as Ipren and Naproxen. They can cause side effects such as gastric ulcer and increased risk of peptic ulcer. You can also bleed more easily because the drug affects the blood’s ability to deliver. The drug can also affect other parts of the body, such as the heart, blood vessels and kidneys. The risk of side effects increases with age . You can get treatment with special prescription cox inhibitors instead, which reduce the risk of stomach upset and do not affect the blood’s ability to cure.

Important to know about prescription drugs

You may want to buy prescription painkillers, regardless of whether you have been prescribed painkillers or not. Then it is important to know that many pain medications are similar. This means that the total dose may be too high. Too high a dose increases the risk of side effects and can be dangerous.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you want to buy prescription painkillers.

Take the medicine well before it hurts

When you have had good effect from painkillers, do not wait until it hurts again before taking the next tablet. Take the next tablet already when you think it may start to hurt, for example if you feel tingling or that it feels hot, pulsating, or stinging where you operated. This way, you get less pain and cope with less pain medication.

To avoid being hurt is good in several ways

You often feel relieved when you receive treatment and the pain decreases or disappears. Avoiding pain is also good in other ways:

  • You breathe deeper and can more easily cough up mucus from the airways when you do not have pain.
  • The risk of complications is reduced, for example pneumonia .
  • The body’s stress response also decreases if you are not in pain. During stress, hormones come into circulation that can adversely affect the body.
  • The body heals faster when the pain relief works.
  • You get out of bed faster and can move around. It reduces the risk of blood clots .
  • You may also feel less fear of similar situations in the future when you do not have pain after an operation.

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