Good pain relief is important. It prevents suffering and it helps you recover more quickly. Your anaesthetist will discuss different pain-relief methods with you before your surgery so you can make an informed decision about which you would prefer.
- Some people need more pain relief than others. Feeling anxious increases the pain people feel.
- Pain relief can be increased, given more often, or given in different combinations.
- Occasionally, pain is a warning sign that all is not well, so the nursing staff should be told about it. Good pain relief helps prevent complications.
- If you can breathe deeply and cough easily after your operation, you are less likely to develop a chest infection.
- If you can move around freely, you are less likely to get blood clots (deep-vein thrombosis or DVT).
Ways of giving pain relief
These are used for all types of pain. They take at least 20 minutes to work and should be taken regularly. You need to be able to eat, drink and not feel sick for these drugs to work.
If needed, these may be given through your cannula into a vein or into your leg or buttock muscle. If they are given in your muscle, they may take 20 minutes or more to work.
Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA)
This is a method using a machine that allows you to control your pain relief yourself. It has a pump which contains an opiate drug . The pump is linked to a handset which has a button. When you press the button, you receive a small dose of the drug painlessly into your cannula. If you would like more information, ask your anaesthetist prior to surgery.
Local anaesthetics and regional blocks
These types of anaesthesia can be very useful for relieving pain after surgery.
Local anaesthetics are commonly injected by the surgeon at the time of the surgery. Your anaesthetist will discuss with you any regional local anaesthetic blocks that may be appropriate for you procedure.
The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists have developed a brochure entitled "Managing Acute Pain - Consumer Guidelines".