Experiencing pain following back surgery is normal and understandable as your bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints are manipulated during the back surgery to correct your problem. An orthopedic surgeon devises a pain control plan before the back surgery to decrease your suffering (pain), reduce complications, and enhance the overall results of your surgery.
Understanding the types of back surgery to manage post-op pain is essential. Let’s talk about the types of pain you might experience post-op, how your pain is managed, and where you can go in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, & Royal Oak, MI for effective pain management.
Types of Pain After Back Surgery
Most patients underestimate the pain and other symptoms they may feel following back surgery and think that because they have been in pain for years due to their orthopedic problem, there won’t be any pain once their problem is corrected. However, in reality, it’s highly likely for them to feel pain and discomfort at the site of the surgery and other surrounding areas even after their surgery.
The first and most common type of pain you may feel is the pain associated with the procedure itself. This pain results from the trauma to your tissue caused by the incisions your surgeon made during the procedure.
The other type of pain is pain from the problem for which you had surgery. This is because, even though your surgery is done, your back needs time to get back into shape before you stop feeling pain. So, until your mechanical problem doesn’t resolve fully, you feel some pain.
Management of Pain
Following the back surgery, you may receive more than one type of pain treatment, depending on the type of your surgery and your needs. Most common pain treatments include:
Intravenous Pain Relievers
After major back surgery, you can anticipate some discomfort and pain that is managed with intravenous (IV) pain medications. You may be given IV opioids and anesthetics to relieve pain.
Depending on your pain, you may also receive wound infiltration anesthesia (anesthetic drugs are injected at the wound site), spinal anesthesia (medications are injected directly into the spinal fluid), nerve block (local anesthetics are used to relieve the pain of the targeted area) or epidural analgesia (pain medications are injected in epidural space). These methods provide pain relief for up to many hours following the surgery.
Oral Pain Medication
In most cases, pain is controlled by oral painkillers. These painkillers often prove to be sufficient to relieve pain and are supposed to be taken every four hours during your recovery period. Initially, the more potent painkillers are prescribed, and later when your pain is manageable, your doctor prescribes less potent painkillers. A combination of narcotics, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories are used as painkillers.
If you feel your pain isn’t going away with these medications, inform your doctor immediately. Your doctor may also advise you to use the pain medications, e.g., not to take anti-inflammatories if you’ve had fusion surgery.
Post-surgery physical therapy is also a wonderful way to manage pain. Physical therapy exercises help release your body’s natural painkiller, i.e., endorphins, and thereby reduce your pain.
Your physical therapist may start some basic exercises to reduce your chances of developing scar tissues at the wound site. These basic exercises won’t harm your wounds but improve blood flow to the surgical site to improve healing. Once your wounds heal, your physical therapist will do some gentle exercises and techniques to improve your body function. Your physical therapist will also work with you to make your body stronger, more flexible, and mobile.
Icing can also significantly reduce the pain and inflammation you feel following back surgery. Ice works by numbing your back, so you feel minimal or no pain sensations. Your doctor may also advise you to use ice packs for 10-15 minutes up to three times a day to manage your pain.
Back Surgery in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, & Royal Oak, MI
At Ahlgren Spine, our board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Ahlgren has over 25 years of experience in treating almost all spine problems. He has an impeccable reputation in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting your musculoskeletal system, including the spine. While he performs surgeries with excellent outcomes, he also provides post-op care, including pain management.
If you want to know more about services offered by Dr. Ahlgren, call our staff at (248) 840-2035 or book a consultation by using our secure online appointment request form.