Postoperative Pain

Surgical intervention creates tissue trauma that results in postoperative pain. This level of pain may be measured at the low end as discomfort or on the high end as acute (excruciating) pain. These pain levels vary by individuals but are predictable in certain types of surgeries. Hemorrhoidectomy, orthopedic joint procedures (shoulder/knee), pelvic floor reconstructions, and certain plastic surgeries are associated with acute postoperative pain.

Aggressive management of postoperative pain is important to helping patients return to their normal life style as soon as possible. Postoperative pain may be treated two ways. Narcotic therapy and local anesthetics.

Narcotic Therapy

Narcotics are systemic medications that may be given in pill form or as an injection. Drugs such as morphine, Demerol or codeine are commonly prescribed for the acute pain associated with surgery. Because narcotics are systemic, their effects last for a limited time (the body metabolizes the drug) and narcotics, while effective, may produce some unpleasant side effects. The side effects of narcotics may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Decreased alertness
  • Dizziness
  • Physical and mental dependency
Local Anesthetics

Local anesthetics are medications that work directly at the surgical site to bathe the traumatized tissue with a deadening solution. The effect on the tissue is immediate and instantly reduces the pain at the site. Typical local anesthetics include marcaine, novocaine, and lidocaine.

The numbing effect will last as long as the anesthetic continues to be infused to the site. Because the administration of the drug is localized (rather than systemic) there is generally none of the side effects associated with large doses of narcotics. A steady slow bath of local anesthetic provides constant relief to allow patients to more easily manage the acute pain experienced immediately after surgery.

Local anesthetics cannot completely eliminate the need for narcotic therapy but their administration can reduce the volume and duration of narcotic treatment. This reduces unpleasant side effects and allows patients to more quickly return to their normal lifestyles.

How It Works

The Advanced Infusion pain management system consists of a pump and catheter system that automatically delivers anesthetic at a slow safe rate. A thin catheter is inserted near the surgical wound and the anesthetic is dripped directly on the tissue. The pump may last for 2-5 days after surgery and is completely portable.

The advantages of using localized anesthetic include:

  • Direct pain relief without the side effects of narcotics
  • Continuous pain relief for the acute phase of recovery
  • Quicker return to normal activities
Talking To Your Doctor about Postoperative Pain Management

Everyone responds differently to the effects of pain and you should discuss your pain management with your doctor. You should be forthright in your approach. Patients approach their doctors, every day, with questions/information about their treatment. If you feel that the administration of a local anesthetic will help you recover faster from your surgery, ask your doctor if you may be treated that way.

For additional information, you may refer your doctor to our website:

Topical anesthetic therapy and equipment are reimbursed by Medicare and private insurance.

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