According to research, orthopedic surgeries are the most painful procedures and take quite a while to fully heal. Postoperative pain can negatively impact recovery and returning to normal activities. Your doctor and the rest of your health care team should work with you to create an individual management plan for after knee surgery pain.
Creating a Pain Plan
It is difficult to objectively gauge the pain levels of a procedure. Two patients who undergo the same surgery can have very different experiences with pain depending on personal thresholds and medication administered.
The pain plan should include the nature of the pain and its likely duration. It should detail the methods of pain relief that will be used in the different stages of recovery. This includes both the medications and non-pharmacological techniques. The medical practitioner should allay the patient’s fears and manage expectations of a full recovery.
It is important to address pain management tips such as staying ahead of the pain and medication before it peaks. Refresh the self-management techniques such as good sleep habits, positive self-talk, exercise, massage, and hot-cold therapy.
Pain Assessment – After knee surgery, pain is an unavoidable companion. You need to understand how to describe your pain. There are many measurement tools and pain scales that can help you describe what you’re feeling for the doctor to figure out how to adjust your treatment.
The pain assessment tool should suit the level of comprehension and communication of the patient. For example, a child cannot rate from 1-10 but they can be shown a serious of progressively sadder faces to indicate how they feel.
Pain Diary – The pain diary is a record of the pain triggers, when it begins or ends, where the pain is concentrated, and what improves or worsens it. This will help your health care team evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment plan and see where improvements can be made.
Knee Replacement Pain Medication
There are 3 categories of pain medication applicable to after knee surgery pain management.
Opioids – These drugs work by attaching themselves to pain receptors and blocking pain messages from reaching the brain. They manage moderate to severe pain and are used immediately after surgery. They should be discontinued as soon as possible because they tend to cause addiction. They also have side effects of nausea, constipation, and itching.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – This group of drugs includes ibuprofen. They work by inhibiting the production of the hormone that causes pain and swelling. Though they are not habit-forming, they do not work as well as opioids on severe pain and can damage the gut lining.
These drugs raise the pain threshold of the body and lower body temperature. They are not as effective as opioids on severe pain.