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Pain After Surgery

Following a neurosurgical procedure, you may have questions about pain management during your recovery. The information listed below will help answer your questions and provide you with instructions and suggestions regarding how to best address this issue.

Surgery and Chronic Pain Issues

Patients who undergo surgery to help treat chronic pain or related issues may still experience some pain after the procedure. This discomfort may be part of the recovery process and may eventually disappear over time; however, for some patients some level of pain may always exist.

Pain Management

Managing pain after surgery can be accomplished in many ways using medication as well as nondrug treatments. These medications include analgesics, such as acetaminophen. Muscle relaxers are also sometimes used to treat muscle spasms that linger after surgery. Note: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, are generally not recommended for immediate use after surgery. Check with your surgeon before taking an NSAID after surgery.

In cases of severe postsurgical pain, your physician may also prescribe narcotic medications and refer you to a pain management specialist who will oversee any long-term administration of these medications. Because all narcotics can cause constipation as they decrease bowel mobility, you will be prescribed a stool softener such as Colace® (docusate). If a stool softener is not effective, you may need to take a laxative, such as magnesium citrate in liquid form.

If you have been prescribed a narcotic medication, be sure to get your prescription filled right away. The pharmacy will only fill these prescriptions if you have a written script – the physician cannot call in the order or request any refills by phone. If you have any issues getting your prescription filled, please call our clinic at (713) 704-7100.

Pain can also be managed without medication. Depending on which procedure you have undergone, light exercise may be helpful in increasing flexibility, decreasing tension, and restoring mobility. Manual techniques, such as massage, applied to affected areas may promote relaxation and decrease pain. Physical therapy and/or behavior modification are sometimes recommended following surgery to help you adjust your patterns of physical movement. This helps you minimize pain during day-to-day activities.

Post-op Appointment

Your neurosurgeon will want to see you 11 to 15 days after surgery. During this visit, he or she will check your recovery, including the progress of your pain management, and together you can discuss different or additional options if necessary.

Contact Us

If you are experiencing new or unusual pain, contact our clinic at (713) 704-7100. If the physician’s Medical Assistant (MA) is not available, our clinic has an answering service for your convenience. If you have an urgent need, or you feel there is a real concern, you can always come to the Emergency Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. Before you go to the Emergency Center, notify the on-call physician. Doing so will expedite your visit, and our team will do an evaluation.