General Pain Management
Because we all feel pain differently, managing it after surgery can be tricky. In the past, we focused mostly on medications. Often, these were opioids. But now, we use a mix of pain-fighting techniques. We call it the "multimodal" method. It deals with the whole body and the mind. And it can cut down on the need for opioids.
If you've had an injury or a surgery, your doctor may prescribe an "opioid." This is a type of powerful painkiller. Opioids can mask severe pain. They may help when other pain control methods aren't working. But they can also affect your brain in a way that's harmful. You can become addicted. Let's learn about how they interact with your brain.
Opioids are often prescribed to relieve the intense pain that accompanies a serious injury or surgical procedure. While opioids can be addictive, they are considered safe and effective for acute pain management if used for the shortest length of time and at the lowest effective dose necessary. A doctor who prescribes opioids for pain management should regularly monitor your pain levels with the goal of safely discontinuing their use when your pain is more manageable (or under control).
When it's time for you to stop taking your opioid medication, you need to do it safely. If you've only been using your medication for a brief time, your doctor may say it's OK to stop suddenly. But if you've used it for longer, your doctor may say you need to stop gradually to let your body adjust. We call this "tapering."
There is no medical test that can tell your healthcare provider what level of pain you might be experiencing following an injury or surgery. That information has to come from you as the patient. Learning how to honestly describe and rate your pain will help your doctor determine the best way to manage that pain and get you on the road to recovery.
When you are being treated for an injury, illness or a chronic condition, you may be asked to talk about the level of pain you feel. This can be tricky, because pain can be difficult to describe. Pain can cause many types of sensations, and what feels very painful for one person may not feel so bad for another.
A PCA or patient-controlled analgesia pump is one way to receive pain medication in the hospital. Your healthcare team will determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment, which allows you to push a button to receive medication directly into a vein when you experience pain. The pump is programmed so that you cannot give yourself too much.
While you are hospitalized, your doctor may choose to let you control your own pain medication with a device called a patient-controlled analgesia (or PCA) pump. This pump is especially helpful for patients who are recovering from surgery. Because you control your own medication, you can fight pain as soon as you begin to feel it.
This is a treatment that helps with the pain of trigger points. Those are small, tender knots in your muscles. They can be very sore when you press them. Sometimes they cause pain in other parts of your body. With dry needling, your therapist targets these knots directly with a thin needle. No medicine is injected.