Managing pain after orthopedic surgery is vitally important to successful rehabilitation and recovery. Proper pain management after surgery allows the patient to begin movement that will result in the most favorable possible outcome.
In some hospital settings, a multifaceted pain management approach is employed. Factors such as the patient’s medical history and age are considered by the rehabilitation specialist and that information is used to develop a course of individualized pain management care following orthopedic surgery.
Some of the analgesic options following orthopedic surgery include long- and short-acting narcotic pain medicine, anti-inflammatories and topical analgesics. Adequate pain relief ensures that the post-op patient can rest comfortably and get the sleep necessary to aid in recovery, as well as participate in meaningful rehabilitative therapy. The method of measuring pain that is used by nearly every health care facility is the 1-10 pain scale – 1 being minor discomfort to 10 being the worst pain a patient can imagine. The goal is to get the patient to a low number and again, allow for comfortable rest and therapy to an extent that will be useful in returning to normal activities as quickly as possible.
Additional adjunct pain management techniques include ice and heat, ultrasound therapy, and electrical stimulation or TENS. Many studies have found TENS therapy helps to reduce post-operative pain. It is also useful for pain related to orthopedic injuries such as fractures and strains. Cold therapy helps reduce swelling. Ultrasound and electrical stimulation may also be used to treat muscular-related conditions that may be present during physical therapy and rehabilitation. More and more facilities are also using alternative pain management techniques, including biofeedback and acupuncture, as a supplement to conventional medicine.
While a patient will very likely feel some discomfort following orthopedic surgery, hospital specialists continue to strive for optimal pain control, often using a combination of therapies, in order to hasten recovery and rehabilitation.
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