Request an Appointment:
Online or Call 1-888-824-0200

Pain Control After Surgery

This guide provides you and your family with information about pain control during your hospitalization. Your recovery will be the best it can be if you are involved in your own pain management and if you are as comfortable as possible after surgery.

What Is Pain?

Pain is the sensation you experience after injury or damage--such as surgery or a trauma--to your body tissue. The degree of your pain is whatever you tell us it is. We will accept your report and try to make you as comfortable as possible. To help others understand the degree or severity of your pain, you can express pain by using the numeric pain intensity scale, rating it from 0-10.












no pain


moderate pain


worst pain

Why Is Pain Control Important?

Pain control after surgery is important to your recovery. When your pain is controlled, you are able to speed your recovery by participating in your care, focusing on getting well, and avoiding problems that can occur after surgery.

There are two types of pain control: non-medication and medication. After surgery, both types can be used to manage your pain.

Non-Medication Pain Control

Non-medication pain control techniques should always be used, with or without medication. They can provide you with some pain relief and increase the effectiveness of your medication.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can help you control your pain:

  1. Breathe in slowly and deeply.
  2. Begin to breathe out slowly. You should be able to feel yourself begin to relax and the tension leave your body.
  3. Now, breathe in and out slowly at a rate that is comfortable for you.
  4. Imagine yourself in a calm and relaxing place.
  5. Continue this exercise for up to 20 minutes.

Physical Agents

  • Massage
  • Cold packs
  • Relaxation

Ask your nurses for other non-medication measures that you can do to control your pain.

Medications Used for Pain Control

Although there are methods of pain control that do not involve medication, many times medications are needed to make patients feel more comfortable. There are different types of medications that may be used for your pain control. You and your doctor will discuss the ways your pain can be controlled.

Receiving Your Medication

There are many different ways you can receive pain medication. The kind of surgery you have will be a factor in the pain control choices that are available to you:

  • Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) is administered through your IV. You press a button to obtain medication as needed. A special pump assures safe doses are delivered. If you receive medicine in this way, you will be taught how to use the pump to best control your pain.
  • Epidural involves a small tube inserted into your back by an anesthesiologist. Pain medicine is given through this tube continuously. A special pump delivers the medication in very small amounts.
  • Injections (shots) may be given to you at regular intervals around the clock to help control your pain. The nurse administers the injection, but you need to watch the time to remind him/her when you think it is time for your next injection.
  • Medication taken by mouth as a capsule, tablet, or liquid. You will not be able to eat or drink immediately after surgery. When you begin to take liquids again, oral medication may be offered. The nurse gives you your medication, which is taken at regular intervals around the clock to control your pain. Be sure to ask for the medication when you feel it is time.

Your Part in Pain Control

Most pain medication is prescribed on an as-needed basis. It will not be given to you automatically. Therefore, be sure to ask for your pain medication as you need it. DON'T be afraid of becoming dependent on your pain medication. Dependency in such a short amount of time is rare.

We want you to have as little pain as possible without any side effects. If you have any questions about how you are receiving your medication, feel free to contact any one of your healthcare providers to assist you. Let your doctor or nurses know if you are having any side effects--such as itching, nausea, constipation, vomiting, or drowsiness--from your medication. References and detailed information on your medication are available upon request.

When you come to the clinic for your appointment after surgery, bring your pain medication with you. We want you to be comfortable, if you have to wait or need a minor procedure. Pain medications are not available in clinic.