The fact that certain types of strong painkillers can be dangerous if taken inappropriately and can create dependence and addiction does not take away from the usefulness these drugs can provide if used as recommended under careful medical supervision. Particularly during the severe pain caused by surgery, it may be necessary to use these substances as part of a pain management program that can be an important way to recover from surgery. If controlled, medication can speed healing and prevent complications, as well as limiting the extent your post-surgery experience will interfere with your life. In order to both make the pain medication effective, and avoid the side effects and dangers, it is absolutely essential that your use of the drug be according to the instructions of a health care provider.
Communicate with doctors pre surgery
The time to begin thinking about a responsible and effective pain management program is before the surgery makes it necessary. This means expressing to your doctor your previous experiences with pain, and how you have handled it in the past. Everyone has a different level of pain tolerance and sensitivity to feeling, so different people may feel the same procedures differently. Helping your health care provider be aware of your experiences can help him or her pick out which medication is right for you.
Other factors that can affect what pain relief program will work for you include other medications you are taking, and any struggles with addiction. Some drugs may interact negatively with each other if taken in combination, and some painkillers have fewer risks of addiction then others. Help your physician understanding all these different factors
Careful use and continued communication post-surgery
After the surgery, it’s important to continue to communicate with your doctor about any pain you are feeling, and your experiences with medications. The Joint Commission has created a standardized scale from 1-10 to measure the level severity of felt pain. This can be a helpful way to let your health care provider know how much pain you are feeling, and whether or not the current medication is effective at relieving it.
One very important thing to avoid is self-medicating, or independently choosing to increase conception of a medication. Rather, talk to your doctor if you are still feeling pain, so the two of you can work out an effective plan. An addictive mindset is focused on always trying to get as much of a drug as possible, in spite of the tremendous risk. By contrast, with responsible pain management, the key is balance. There are both benefits and risks to pain medication, strong enough to help you perform the activities you need to recover, while avoiding the unpleasant side effects from taking too much.
One tool that can be used to encourage responsible use of powerful opioid painkillers is a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), that allows you to give yourself a carefully measured out dosage when needed. Because it takes time for a medication to enter into your system, it will only honor the first request within a set period. Too much will make you too drowsy to press the button. In this way, overdoes are prevented. For this reason, it’s very important that the person in need of the medication be the one to press the button, not other friends and family.
Pain gets in the way of your healing process, so the aftermath of serious surgery is not the time to try to ignore and endure pain. Rather, it’s a time to carefully listen to your body’s real needs, and communicate with a health care professional to find a responsible way of dealing with that pain. Within those boundaries, medication can be an important part of recovery.