In order to enhance your recovery it is important that pain is as well controlled as possible as we need you to be able to do your breathing exercises, cough and mobilise in comfort. While you may not be pain free, it is important that your pain is minimal to allow you to carry out these things.
Patients therefore usually have one of these three systems of pain control:
- An epidural infusion (a tiny tube into the epidural space in the spine) which allows a continuous supply of pain relieving medicine to be given. This is generally removed on the second or third day after the operation but may stay in until day 5 post-operatively.
- A PCA (patient controlled analgesia) system allows self-administration of pain relief; this is usually removed on the first or second day after surgery.
- Spinal diamorphine is injected intra-thecally which gives excellent pain relief for a shorter period of time than an Epidural but is often followed by a PCA.
There will also be other types of oral pain relieving medicines prescribed, which work in different ways and will be regularly administered, two to four times a day.
Pain is controlled in various ways depending on the type of surgery you have and your need. It will be discussed with you on an individual basis. The more comfortable you are the more able you will be to move about, so it is vital that you tell the nursing staff if your pain relief isn’t enough for you to take a deep breath and cough. It is also important that you are able to continue with the leg exercises that you will have been shown.