Following a surgical procedure, the most common complaint made by a patient would be the pain. The pain caused by even a minor surgical procedure can be excruciating and could make the patient suffer. Thus, good pain relief is one of the most important aspects of post operative management.
When considering giving pain relief, there are several points that a clinician needs to decide. Some of them are,
How severe the pain will be? How long the pain will last? Where will the pain be felt? Is the patient ready for oral medications? Is the patient allergic to certain medications? Will the drowsiness caused by a pain reliever affect the decision making process of the surgeon? Will the pain relievers adversely affect the surgical procedure? What is the patients preference? What are the available pain relief medications and options?
Following considering the above facts, the clinician would be able to make a decision. Thus, some of the methods of post operative pain relief are discussed below.
1. Intravenous analgesics
In major surgeries as well as in surgeries which could give rise to severe pain, intravenous analgesics or pain relievers are preferred. These analgesics will act swiftly as well as efficiently. These medications can be given via intravenous cannulae. Morphine and fentanyl are some of the analgesics that can be given as an intravenous injection or an infusion.
In certain instances, intra muscular route would be chosen rather than the intravenous route. It’s used mostly in places where facilities for resuscitation are less developed.
In certain instances, patients will be able to control the dosing themselves. These devices will enable them to push a button and receive the drug dosage. But, it will also include a safety mechanism in order to prevent overdosing.
2. Epidural analgesics
Epidural analgesics are delivered via a catheter inserted in to the epidural space and thus will enable either continuous flow of the analgesic or intermittent infusion of an analgesics. Most of these medications, even though we refer them as analgesics, will truly be numbing agents that inhibits the stimulation of the nerves.
3. Nerve block
It is possible to inject a numbing agent in to the vicinity of a nerve or a nerve bundle and relieve the pain sensation transmitted through that particular nerve or the nerve bundle. Thus, it will more likely to relieve some of the side effects of more generalized pain relieving medications.
4. Oral medications
When the patient is able to take orally, it is possible to introduce oral medications. These medications can be either opioids or simple analgesics like acetaminophen. Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) can also be used and will need to be on the look out for its side effects. But, at times where inflammation, swelling and pain are combined, NSAIDs will be much more effective than the other pain relief medications.
The side effects by oral medications would include gastritis, constipation, drowsiness as well as nausea and vomiting.
Apart from the above medical means of pain relief, a patient recovering from a surgery will require the most precious pain reliever of all, the tender-loving-care. Thus, with good nursing as well as proper selection of pain relievers will enable the patient to pass through the agonizing time following a surgery.