Post-operative pain control after orthopedic surgery

While pain is to be expected after orthopedic surgery, advancements in pain control allow doctors to better manage patients’ discomfort1. Many strategies are employed during and after orthopedic surgery to do so. During some cases of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, for instance, a saphenous regional nerve block is used. This involves injecting anesthesia around a major sensory nerve to the knee. Similarly, total shoulder and total knee replacements also typically involve a regional nerve block2. Nerve blocks help minimize use of post-operative pain medication. They are often used in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, toradol, or aspirin. In addition, given that nausea is a common side effect of surgery, Dr. Marx also recommends some patients take anti-nausea medication, coupled with their pain medication.

Overall, Dr. Marx suggests tailoring post-operative treatment plans to each patient’s unique scenario. For instance, some patients may be prescribed narcotics for a few days, while others will be able to manage their pain without them. Each patient’s case is different, and it is important to work with your medical provider to find the best option for you.

¹AAOS: OrthoInfo – Managing Pain With Medications After Orthopaedic Surgery

²Postoperative Analgesia with Saphenous Block Appears Equivalent to Femoral Nerve Block in ACL Reconstruction. HSSJ, 2014.


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