While notoriously unpleasant, acute postoperative pain can be more than just an uncomfortable nuisance. When not adequately managed, acute postoperative pain can lead to a wide range of detrimental consequences, including chronic pain development, reliance on pain medications, impaired function, increased medical costs, and greater risk of morbidity.
That is why regardless of which type of surgery you’re having, your pain management team will work closely with you and take all necessary measures to safely reduce your pain after the procedure.
In this article, we are going to explore the importance of as well as the modalities available for postoperative pain management.
Why Postoperative Pain Management Is Important
Pain management after surgery is crucial for minimizing a person’s risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications. Acute pain in itself can elevate blood pressure by increasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system: sympathetic nerves, which are located near the middle of the spinal cord, are responsible for directing the body’s rapid response to stressful situations (e.g., accelerating heart rate, boosting the body’s alertness, etc.). Poorly controlled postoperative acute pain can cause a continuous stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to hypertension, heart attacks, and other serious conditions.
Moreover, postoperative pain management is essential for facilitating quick mobilization and return to normal activities. If your pain is fully controlled, you are both physically and psychologically more capable of carrying out tasks that can help with your recovery (e.g., walking and other types of applicable exercises). Faster recovery ultimately translates into a reduced cost of care.
Postoperative pain control also helps prevent acute pain from progressing into chronic pain. Repeated or continuous stimulation of the nerves can precipitate a series of changes in the pain pathways. This leads to hypersensitivity to stimuli from conditions that do not typically cause pain (central sensitization) and dysfunction in the mechanisms of the central nervous system.
Postoperative Pain Management Modalities
There are various modalities available for controlling postoperative pain. The one your doctor will recommend will depend on what they determine to be the exact cause. Together, you and your doctor will decide which option is the most suitable based on your specific condition and preference.
If they have ruled out infection and other potential complications, they may recommend any of the following options:
- Nerve blocks– If your doctor identifies that your pain is caused by inflammation or irritated tissue at the surgical site, they will likely administer a local anesthetic close to the surrounding nerves or bundle of nerves to address the pain.
- Radiofrequency ablation (rhizotomy)- This is a non-surgical procedure, in which your pain management specialist will use heat to kill the nerve fibers that are responsible for sending pain signals.
- Implantable neuromodulator (spinal cord stimulator or dorsal root ganglion stimulator)- This has been shown to effectively eliminate postoperative pain by essentially scrambling your interior pain messaging system, thereby rendering your brain unable to translate those signals into perceivable pain. This, in turn, halts the sensation once and for all.
Pain Management Specialist in Melbourne, Florida
At Central Florida Spine & Pain, Dr. Nicholas Giordano, our board-certified interventional pain management specialist, offers a vast range of innovative and highly effective modalities and techniques, all aimed at helping our patients feel, function, and live better.
Call our staff now at (321) 802-5021 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Giordano. You can also use our convenient online form to request an appointment.