When you need surgery, you hope that your pain and discomfort will go away after healing. Many times, that is the case; however, it is also common for patients to experience pain after surgery. By necessity, there is damage done to tissue due to the incision, the procedure or force that may be applied to carry out the procedure and close the wound. Additionally, there may also be post-surgical pain related to your position on the surgical table during your surgery.
Types of Post-Surgical Pain
There are several types of pain that can be experienced after surgery. Most fall into one of two groupings, nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.
Nociceptive pain includes:
- Superficial somatic pain which generally is felt with an injury and dissipates as healing progresses. Cuts, bruises and superficial burns and the pain from incisions fit in this category.
- Deep somatic pain is generated from tissue deep within the body. Pain felt in muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons is deep somatic pain. If an incision cuts through muscle or internal tissue, you may feel this pain.
- Visceral pain has to do with internal organs. Visceral pain can be general and difficult to locate exactly. Surgery can cause this type of pain, especially when cancer or infection is involved. When an organ needs to be cut into, the result can be visceral pain. This type of pain is also caused by gas stretching the digestive system, which can occur after surgery in the area.
The other grouping of pain is neuropathic pain. This is the type of pain that occurs when there is damage to nerve cells. Such pain is caused by diseases, infections, injury and surgery. Neuropathic pain originates with damage to the brain or spinal cord, resulting in central neuropathic pain (CNP) or peripheral neuropathic pain. This type comes from nerves outside of the central nervous system. Usually, it involves nerves in the extremities of the body. Patients who undergo joint replacement or repair may experience this type of pain.
Treatment of post-surgical pain depends on the cause. Phantom limb pain can occur in people who have undergone amputation of a body part, such as a breast or leg, may experience sensations as if the body part is still attached.
Referred pain is that which results from the brain receiving signals from bundles of nerves serving an area of the body. When the brain cannot locate the exact source of the problem, you feel referred pain. An example is when signals are sent from the heart and arm to the brain. A heart attack can be signaled by pain in the arm.
You should expect to feel some type of pain after your surgery. Talk with your doctor about those expectations before your surgery so there is less chance of your pain level coming as a surprise.
Addressing Your Post-Surgical Pain
The best time to start addressing post-surgical pain is before your surgery. Find out what you can expect in terms of pain and how long you should expect your pain to last. Some pre-existing conditions, like chronic pain, can make post-surgical pain more challenging to handle.
If you are already taking medication for pain before your surgery, talk to your doctor about it. Patients sometimes find their bodies have become tolerant of the pain relievers they have been taking, and they no longer work well. If your doctor is aware of this, he or she can prescribe a different medication and/or add other pain management treatments as needed.
Alternative Pain Relief Treatments
Although medications are usually prescribed for post-surgical pain, there are additional methods of treating pain that are very effective and may not involve the use of narcotics or other strong medications.
Manhattan Sports Therapy offers a variety of treatments to alleviate pain. Chiropractic care can ease muscle tension and release tight muscles. Acupuncture is also a method used to reduce pain levels. Massage and exercises used to target specific areas and relax muscles can help ease pain while raising your endorphin levels.
Discover how our alternative treatments can help with post-surgical pain. Known for his dedication to helping patients overcome pain, Dr. Rolland Miro provides excellent care with compassion and knowledge for patients experiencing post-surgical pain. Contact Manhattan Sports Therapy today to schedule your consultation appointment.