Preparing for Surgery: Pain Management

Although pain is a natural consequence of surgery, your post-operative pain can be controlled. Keeping your pain in check will help your body heal faster. When your pain is controlled, it is easier to perform breathing exercises, begin walking and build strength. These activities help to prevent complications after surgery, such as pneumonia and blood clots.

Being prepared, knowing what to expect and understanding the plan for managing your pain helps put you in control. Be sure to:

  • Tell your physicians and nurses about any allergies to medicines you may have.
  • Ask about side effects that may occur with a medication.
  • Tell your physician the names of all medications that you are currently taking.

How Severe is Your Pain?

To help us minimize your pain, it’s important that we understand how much pain you are feeling. We will ask you to rate your pain using a scale of 0–10. A rating of zero, for example, means that you do not feel any pain. A rating of 10 means that you are in extreme pain.

As soon as you get to the recovery room, nurses will begin asking you, “How bad is your pain?” Using the pain scale, your physicians and nurses make the best pain medication decisions to relieve your pain. Our goal is to make sure that your pain is under control. We will consider your pain under control if your pain rating is 4 or less on the 0–10 scale.

You Need to Tell the Nurses and Doctors About Your Pain

  • As soon as the pain begins, tell your nurse or physician. Don’t wait until the pain is bad; severe pain is harder to control.
  • Don’t worry about being a bother — “Speak up.”
  • You are the only one who can feel your pain. Tell us when and how much you are hurting.
  • Describe how much your pain hurts. On a scale of 0–10, zero means no pain at all, and 10 means the worst pain you can imagine.
  • Describe what makes your pain better or worse. For example, does it hurt more when you move or do breathing exercises?
  • Use specific words like sharp, stabbing, dull, aching, burning, tingling, throbbing, etc.
  • Explain how the pain affects your daily life. Can you work? Sleep? Exercise? Concentrate?
  • Explain any past treatments that you’ve tried. What medications have you taken? Which were effective?
Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

This site is part of the Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare network of Web sites, which covers a variety of topics using the same philosophy: When it comes to medical care, we know that you have a lot of options. And we want you to know that you're more than a patient to us. You're an individual. We would appreciate the opportunity to provide you with state-of-the-art medical care and down-to-earth, personalized attention.

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