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Pain Management After Surgery


It is important to manage your pain after surgery so you can rest and heal. Pain management will also help you return to your normal activities.



  • Acetaminophen helps decrease pain. Follow directions. This medicine can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Prescription pain medicine can be given as a pill, a patch, or a cream. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Anxiety medicine may help you feel less anxious and decrease your pain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your pain:

  • Apply heat on your surgery area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
  • Apply ice on your surgery area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Massage therapy may help relax tight muscles and decrease pain.
  • Physical therapy teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength and decrease pain.
  • Self-hypnosis is a way to direct your attention to something other than your pain. For example, you might repeat a positive statement about ignoring the pain or seeing the pain in a positive way.
  • Music may help increase your energy level and improve your mood. It may help reduce pain by triggering your body to release endorphins. These are natural body chemicals that decrease pain.
  • Distraction teaches you to focus your attention on something other than pain. For example, play cards, visit with family, or watch TV.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a portable device that is placed over the area of pain. It uses mild, safe electrical signals to help control pain.
  • Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) uses mild, safe electrical signals to relax the nerves that cause your pain. An electrode is implanted near your spinal cord during a procedure.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain does not go away, or gets worse, even after you take medicine.
  • You feel too sleepy or groggy.
  • You have itching, a rash, or nausea from your medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have severe pain.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.