While some pain is to be expected after spinal surgery, the idea that you just have to “live with the pain” is misguided, especially in today’s world of modern medicine. By developing an effective pain management plan, you can navigate through the pain naturally associated with post-operative spine surgery as you begin resuming a normal life. Here are a few tips to help you through the process.
Because pain is subjective and everyone has a different threshold of tolerance, one of the biggest communication gaps between doctors and patients occurs when patients try to describe their pain — or fail to bring it up. Now is not the time to “tough it out;” try to be honest with your health professionals about your levels of pain and your tolerance for it so they have a better idea of how to help you develop a pain management strategy. Both immediately following surgery and during your recovery process, contact your pain management team whenever you feel a flare-up. This may help them get ahead of the problem to help you become more comfortable.
Many painkillers are addictive, and a good physician will exercise caution when prescribing them. During times of more intense pain, you may be tempted to take more than the prescribed dose. Do not do it. Not only could you generate unwanted side effects, but you could be enabling dependency on the drug. If you feel your meds aren’t working, call your pain management team and allow them to recommend alternatives.
The other side of the previous point is that when you have been prescribed pain medication, be proactive with it. Pay attention to your body and take your meds at the onset of pain before it becomes severe. Your medications will be more effective in controlling the pain while the inflammation is still at a minimum.
Spine surgery patients so often associate physical therapy with pain. While this may be the case, at least at first, increasing your mobility and flexibility will reduce your pain in the long run, eventually reducing your need for pain medications, as well.
Finally, don’t rely solely on pain medications to manage your pain. A healthy diet and appropriate exercise can reduce the inflammation that causes pain while enabling your body to heal itself. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan and diet that’s right for you.
Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center is committed to helping each of our patients achieve a successful recovery, including developing an effective pain management plan after spinal surgery. To learn more, call us today at 404-256-2633.