Healthsheet

Managing Post-Op Pain at Home: Medicines

Managing Post-Op Pain at Home: Medicines

Pain after an operation (post-op pain) is common and expected. These guidelines can help you stay as comfortable as possible.

Taking pain medicines

  • Take medicines on time. Do not take more than prescribed.
  • Take only the medicines that your healthcare provider tells you to take.
  • Take pain medicines with some food to avoid an upset stomach.
  • Don't drink alcohol while using pain medicines.

Types of pain medicines

Non-opioid:

  • Over-the-counter (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) or prescription
  • All relieve mild to moderate pain and some reduce swelling
  • Possible side effects include stomach upset and bleeding, high doses may cause kidney or liver problems
  • Check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter pain medicines in addition to your prescribed pain medicine

Opioid:

  • Always a prescription
  • Relieve moderate to severe pain
  • Possible side effects include stomach upset, nausea, and itching
  • May cause constipation (to help prevent this, eat high-fiber foods and drink plenty of water)
  • Your doctor may recommend a stool softener

When to seek medical care

Call your doctor or seek immediate attention if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lasting constipation, or stomach cramps
  • Breathing problems or a fast heart rate
  • Feeling very tired, sluggish, or dizzy
  • Skin rash