After surgery, you may be feeling pain. While your doctor may have prescribed medication to lessen the pain, there are many other things you can do to make yourself more comfortable post-surgery. Here are six ways to reduce pain without opioids:
- Elevate the injured area so it is higher than your heart. This can reduce swelling and pain, which can make your dressing feel tight. If elevation for 10 minutes does not improve the tight sensation, contact your surgical team. They may recommend that you loosen the wrap or cut the inner layers, but follow their directions.
- Keep moving by frequently, gently and slowly moving the parts of the body that are outside of the splint or cast (i.e. fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder). This improves blood flow, which limits swelling.
- Ice the painful area to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain. Consult your surgeon before doing so, as ice can be harmful after certain procedures.
- Heat the area to increase blood flow and reduce muscle spasms, soreness and joint pain. Only use heat if you are in the phase of recovery where you can remove your dressing or splint.
- Avoid smoking both before and after surgery, as chemicals present in cigarettes can increase pain.
- Consume vitamin C daily for 6 weeks to potentially reduce pain.
It is important to note that every patient, surgery and surgeon is unique, so the suggestions above may not apply to your situation. Discuss your strategy for managing pain with your surgical team before and after your surgery. Be sure to follow any instructions that were given to you by your team.
Learn more about pain management and opioids on HandCare.org.