Before and after your surgery, ask questions about pain management. Knowing how much pain to expect may help you feel more in control and less afraid of surgery. Here are some of the questions you may ask the nurses or doctors before surgery.
- How much pain should I expect? What is normal?
- How long does the pain usually last?
- What pain medication will I get? What choices do I have?
- Will the pain medicine be given to me as a pill, an injection (shot) or through an IV (in the vein)?
- How often will I be given pain medication?
If you have had pain medicine that didn’t work well, or if you had side effects such as vomiting or blurred vision, be sure to tell the nurses and doctors.
Managing Your Pain
When you arrive for your procedure, your nurse will ask you how much pain you are willing to accept in order to move around in bed, walk, cough, breathe deeply and sleep. This is called the “goal” for pain management. During your stay, the nurses and your doctor often will ask about your pain to make sure the pain level is acceptable. They will also ask where it hurts and how it feels. Here are some words to help describe the pain: cramp, sharp, ache, burning, dull, constant, off-and-on. Your doctor and nurses will compare your pain goal and the way you describe pain to decide what type of medicine and other pain relief methods to use. You are the only one who knows how much pain you feel and what makes you feel better. Be honest with the nurses or doctor. It is okay to “bother” your nurse! Taking care of the pain is an important part of taking care of your health.
Remember: It is very important for your nurses or doctors to know if the pain medicine doesn’t help or if your pain suddenly changes. Everyone feels and reacts to pain in different ways. How you feel pain can depend on what happened to you in the past and how worried you are about what is causing your pain now.