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Pain Management

Special Note: Be sure to follow any specific post-op instructions from your surgeon or nurse.

Once you’re home, you may have some pain, since even minor surgery causes swelling and breakdown of tissue. When it comes to effective pain management, the tips you learned in the hospital also work at home. To get the best pain relief possible, remember these points:

Man holding glass of water, preparing to take pill.

Use your medication only as directed

  • If your pain is not relieved or if it gets worse, call your doctor.

  • If pain lessens, try taking your medication less often or in smaller doses.

Remember that medications need time to work

  • Most pain relievers taken by mouth need at least 20 to 30 minutes to take effect. They may not reach their maximum effect for close to an hour. 

  • Take pain medication at regular times as directed. Don’t wait until the pain gets bad to take it.

Time your medication

  • Try to time your medication so that you take it before beginning an activity, such as dressing or sitting at the table for dinner.

  • Taking your medication at night may help you get a good night’s rest.

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

  • Constipation is a common side effect with some pain medications. Eating fruit and vegetables can help.

  • Drink lots of fluids.

  • Talk to your doctor about taking a preventive bowel regimen.

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking pain medication

  • Mixing alcohol and pain medication can cause dizziness and slow your respiratory system. It can even be fatal.

  • Avoid driving or operating machinery while taking pain medication.

Avoid driving or operating machinery while taking pain medications that can cause drowsiness.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chamberlain, Kevin, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 12/20/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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