Neck and back surgeries are performed to alleviate pain and disability locally as well as in your arms and legs. However, post-operative pain is a common symptom experienced once the anesthetic begins to wear-off. This can be due to tissue trauma or nerve injury that occurs during the surgery. Pain control following neck and back surgery is of priority to you and your doctor as it increases your comfort level, and prepares you for rehabilitation and a faster recovery. In addition, when your pain is well controlled, you will be able to walk and perform deep breathing exercises, which are important for the prevention of complications, such as blood clots and pneumonia.
Pain control first starts with you – talk about your pain and inform your doctor about the region and intensity of the pain. Following surgery, you will be connected to a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) machine, which dispenses small amounts of medication when you press a button at preset intervals. Significant pain management following surgery is one of the criteria considered before discharge. When you are discharged, do not wait for the pain to increase before taking your medications. Instead, take your prescribed medications regularly as advised by your doctor. Other methods of pain relief can be achieved with hot or cold compresses, relaxation, massage, epidural injections or spinal cord stimulation.
If your pain is unbearable and you are not getting relief with your prescription pain medication, immediately inform your doctor for further intervention.