Managing Post-Op Pain at Home: Medications

Managing Post-Op Pain at Home: Medications

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

Man putting pill in mouth, holding glass of water.

Taking Pain Medications

  • Take medications on time. Do not take more than prescribed.

  • Take only the medications that your health care provider tells you to take.

  • Take pain medications with some food to avoid an upset stomach.

  • Don’t drink alcohol while using pain medications.

Types of Pain Medications


  • 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

  • Check with your doctor before taking over-the-counter pain medications in addition to your prescribed pain medication


  • 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)

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