Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Related Reading

Managing Pain After Surgery

Man holding glass of water, preparing to take pill.

Once you’re home after surgery, you may have some pain. This is because even minor surgery causes swelling and breakdown of tissue. When it comes to effective pain management, the tips you learned in the hospital also work at home. To get the best pain relief possible, remember these points:

Special Note: Be sure to follow any specific post-op instructions from your surgeon or nurse.

Use your medicine only as directed

  • If your pain is not relieved or if it gets worse, call your healthcare provider.

  • If your pain lessens, try taking your medicine less often.

Remember that medicines need time to work

  • Most pain relievers taken by mouth need at least 20–30 minutes to take effect.

  • Take pain medicine at regular times as directed. Don’t wait until the pain gets bad to take it.

Time your medicine

  • Try to time your medicine so that you take it before beginning an activity, such as dressing or sitting at the table for dinner.

  • Taking your medicine at night may help you get a good night’s rest.

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

  • Constipation is a common side effect with some pain medications. Eating fruit and vegetables can help.

  • Drink lots of fluids.

  • Don't take laxatives unless your surgeon has prescribed them for you.

Don't drink alcohol while taking pain medicine

  • Mixing alcohol and pain medicine can cause dizziness and slow your respiratory system. It can even be fatal.

  • Don't drive or operate machinery while taking pain medicine.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library