The Challenges of Living with Post-Surgical Pain

Person getting surgery
  • An estimated 15 million Americans undergo surgery yearly, much higher than in other countries like Canada and the UK.
  • Post-surgical pain is a common side effect of surgery that can be intense and difficult to manage.
  • Pain management, psychological effects, and sleep deprivation are associated with post-surgical pain.
  • It is essential to recognize your personal pain threshold and take advantage of medication prescribed to you by your doctor.
  • You can also try distracting yourself from the discomfort through activities like reading, watching TV, listening to music, or even taking a hot bath or shower.

Surgery is an essential part of people’s lives, especially in a country like the U.S. It’s estimated that about 15 million Americans get surgery annually. That’s much higher when compared to countries like Canada and the U.K., where only 4 million operations are carried out each year. Surgeries can range from relatively minor procedures to life-saving operations. But recovering after it can be problematic.

Challenges That Come With Post-Surgical Pain

For many, surgery is a necessary and helpful step in getting back to health. Unfortunately, a common byproduct of surgery is post-surgical pain, which can be debilitating and difficult to manage. Here’s a closer look at the issues that come along with post-surgical pain and how they can be addressed.

Pain Management

The biggest challenge for those with post-surgical pain is managing it while recovering. Many surgeries require patients to remain relatively inactive during recovery, making pain feel more intense and harder to manage.

Additionally, the physical limitations of the healing process may prevent people from participating in activities that could otherwise help relieve their pain, such as stretching or engaging in light exercise. This makes it essential for patients to find non-medicinal ways of managing their pain—such as meditation or visualization techniques—that don’t conflict with their doctor’s orders.

Moreover, it’s good to have technology around to monitor this pain. A robust tens unit can help significantly in alleviating post-operative pain and discomfort. It’s a stimulating device that can be placed on the affected area to reduce the sensation of pain.

Anxious woman at the dentist

Psychological Effects

Another issue that comes along with post-surgical pain is its psychological effects on people living with it. Depending on the type of procedure and the individual’s overall health before the surgery, some people may experience depression or anxiety surrounding the recovery process. It is important for those affected by post-surgical pain to talk through these issues with their healthcare team so they can address any underlying mental health needs they may have during this time.

Sleep Deprivation

Finally, one of the most common issues associated with post-surgical pain is sleep deprivation caused by difficulty sleeping through the night due to discomfort or waking up too frequently because of medications like opioids often prescribed after surgery.

Those suffering from sleep deprivation should consider alternative treatments like over-the-counter analgesics or topical creams and gels, as well as lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake before bedtime or avoiding screens close to bedtime to get back on track and resting appropriately during recovery.

Managing Post-Surgical Pain

Remember that post-surgical pain can be intense and may last weeks after your procedure. This is because your body needs time to heal itself, and the inflammation associated with surgery takes time to subside. You should expect discomfort as your body works through this healing process and mentally prepare for this reality.

Recognize Your Pain Threshold

When dealing with post-operative pain, it’s essential to recognize your personal pain threshold. Everyone experiences different levels of discomfort, so what might be unbearable for one person may not be a big deal for another. Knowing your comfort level will help you better understand when to take action and reduce your pain level.

Pharmacist in store

Take Advantage of Medication

Most people who have undergone surgery will be prescribed medication to help manage their post-operative pain. Taking advantage of these medications as your doctor directs is essential to remain comfortable throughout your recovery process. Don’t forget that even over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can help relieve some mild post-operative discomfort.

Find Ways To Distract Yourself From The Pain

Another way to manage post-surgery pain is to find ways to distract yourself from it. This could mean engaging in activities like reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Or you could try doing something physical like walking around the house or taking a hot bath or shower—all activities that can help relax tight muscles and alleviate soreness and stiffness associated with surgery recovery.

Post-surgical pain can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. Understanding the issues that come with post-surgical pain and taking the proper steps to manage it can make your recovery process much more comfortable. It can also help you return to daily activities more quickly and painlessly.


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