Anesthesia & You

Anesthesia & You

Options for Postoperative Pain Control

The management of postoperative pain is an essential part of your recovery process. Effective pain control can help to reduce stress, reduce the risk of post-surgical complications and speed up your overall recovery. There are different types of pain control available to you depending on your condition and your planned procedure. You can discuss these options with your Anesthesiologist during your anesthesia interview. Frequently, your pain can be handled simply with oral pain medicines (pills or syrups) or intravenous (IV) pain medicines. Some procedures will allow us to offer regional anesthetic techniques that focus the administration of numbing medicines and pain medicines directly to nerve bundles. These regional anesthetic techniques, also known as nerve blocks, are beneficial in many ways. One benefit is the reduced need for systemic pain medicines (medicines that go all over your body, particularly the brain), thereby lowering the chances of over-sedation, slowed breathing, disorientation, and nausea and/or vomiting.

Epidural Catheter

This type of pain control involves the placement of a very thin catheter into the epidural space along your spine. A pump is then attached to the catheter and medicines (typically a narcotic like morphine) and a local anesthetic (like novacaine), are absorbed by the nerves in your spine in a continuous manner.

Peripheral Nerve Blocks

The following blocks are frequently used for postoperative pain control after surgery:

  • Interscalene nerve block
  • Supraclavicular nerve block
  • Infraclavicular nerve block
  • Axillary nerve block
  • Femoral nerve block
  • Sciatic nerve block
  • Popliteal nerve block
  • Ankle block

These nerve blocks can last for a few hours or up to 18 to 24 hours depending upon the area and type of medicine injected.

Because these blocks are performed with a one-time injection, you will experience pain when they wear off. It is recommended that you take an oral pain medicine when you start to experience pain. Yet, once again, the benefit of needing less systemic pain medicines (medicines that go all over your body, particularly the brain) during the procedure itself thus lowering the chances of over-sedation, slowed breathing, disorientation, and nausea and/or vomiting.

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