Postoperative Back Pain? Learn How You Can Manage It!

lower back surgeryOne of the greatest worries of undergoing a surgery is the high chance of having mild or severe postoperative lower back pain and so, surgeries are generally resorted to if there’s no other option! But there is no reason why you’ll allow the prospects of postoperative pain relief make a coward of you.

Most patients want to know how much pain they might experience after surgery, how long the recovery period will be and to what extent will their life be disrupted. In most cases it’s pretty difficult to answer these questions as each patient’s recovery varies dramatically, depending on their overall health and the type and the complexity of surgery performed.

Effective pain management techniques after surgery can greatly contribute to the overall success of the back surgery. However, for better results, the pain management techniques should start before the surgery.

Here is what you can do…

  • Your doctor should also know if you have chronic pain or not. Because then your pain management techniques will be different.
  • Notify the doctor of all the medications, supplements or herbs that you have taken during the month preceding the surgery.
  • The doctor also should know about your alcohol and drug usage. Your pain management techniques may fall flat, if you don’t abstain from them now.
  • If you have any questions regarding the surgery, ask your doctor. What can be the possible side effects, what medications will be provided, etc.

Being prepared is vital for effective pain management.


After the surgery, the Medicines that can be used to reduce postoperative pain are…

Intravenous (IV) pain medication: Post surgery, pain relievers like morphine or fentanyl are provided through the IV catheter frequently. Some hospitals also use a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) through which you can give yourself a fixed dose of medication with just the push of a button.

Epidural analgesia: In this case, pain medications are injected through a catheter which is inserted into the epidural space lying within your spinal canal but outside your spinal fluid.

Spinal anesthesia: Here, the pain relief medications are directly injected into the spinal fluid.

Nerve block: This will provide pain relief to the target area and will prevent the pain from travelling to the brain following the nerve pathway.

Combination pain medications: One or more pain-relief drugs are given in this case. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), celecoxib (Celebrex), ketamine (Ketalar) or gabapentin (Neurontin) are provided together.

The pain management continues during your home recovery stage.

Ice, rest or elevations are the common steps.

  • The doctor may inject anesthesia to the area of pain, which will give temporary relief.
  • Often oral medicines are also prescribed. Opioids or NSAIDs like ibuprofen also act as pain relievers.

These were, however, the medicine ways of pain management. There are, non-medicine ways too.

  • To begin with, you will have to identify the pain. Talk to your doctor about the pain, where it hurts and which activities trigger it more.
  • If medications are causing any side effects like constipation, sleepiness, nausea, itching, etc. you should talk to your health care provider.

There are some pain management guidelines too that you can follow for additional help.

  • Find out who can provide you postoperative pain management.
  • Set realistic expectations. This will provide you a greater sense of control and will reduce anxiety and worry.
  • Discuss medicines with your doctor.
  • Find out about the non-medicine options like cognitive-behavioral methods, relaxation techniques, etc.
  • Learn to alert the healthcare staff if the pain increases.

Going under the scalpel requires courage but you have been brave about it. Now with postoperative pain management techniques you can ensure your comfort during the post-surgery days more effectively!