Post-surgical pain control plays a vital role in facilitating a smooth recovery process and minimising the risk of complications. Effective pain management is a collaborative effort between you and your healthcare provider.

Here are some key points to consider:

Enhanced recovery and healing: When pain is properly managed after surgery, it allows you to move more comfortably and engage in necessary activities like deep breathing exercises, walking, and rehabilitation. This aids in preventing complications by promoting better lung function, circulation, and overall healing.

Individualised pain management plan: Every patient’s pain experience and tolerance may differ, so it’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a personalised pain management plan. Factors such as the type and extent of surgery, your medical history, and any pre-existing conditions will be considered when determining the most suitable approach.

Balanced pain relief: Pain medications are typically a cornerstone of post-surgical pain control. Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain relievers to manage your pain. The goal is to achieve a balance between pain relief and minimising potential side effects. This balance helps optimise your comfort and allows you to actively participate in your recovery.

Multiple technique approach to pain management: Combining different pain management techniques is often more effective than relying solely on medications. This approach may include physical therapy, ice or heat therapy, electrical nerve stimulation therapy, relaxation techniques, or complementary therapies like acupuncture. By employing a variety of methods, you can address pain from multiple angles and reduce reliance on medications alone.

Open communication: Maintain ongoing communication with your healthcare provider regarding your pain levels, concerns, and any changes you experience during your recovery. This collaboration allows for adjustments in your pain management plan as needed, ensuring optimal pain relief.

Managing expectations: While pain control is important, it’s crucial to understand that complete pain elimination may not always be possible or advisable. The goal is to manage pain to a tolerable level that allows you to participate in essential activities and promotes healing.

Pain management after orthopaedic surgery is crucial to ensure patient comfort and facilitate a successful recovery.

Here are some important do’s and don’ts to consider:


Follow the prescribed medication: Take pain medications as directed by your surgeon or healthcare provider. It’s important to take them on time and at the recommended dosage to manage pain effectively.

Utilise a multiple technique approach: Employ a combination of pain management techniques to optimise relief. This may include medications, physical therapy, ice or heat therapy, and other non-pharmacological methods.

Communicate with your healthcare team: Inform your healthcare provider about your pain levels, concerns, and any changes you experience. They can adjust your pain management plan accordingly.

Elevate and rest: After orthopaedic surgery, it’s crucial to rest and elevate the affected limb. This can help reduce swelling, which can contribute to pain.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and engage in light physical activity as recommended by your healthcare provider. Maintaining overall health can aid in the healing process and potentially reduce pain.


Don’t exceed the prescribed dosage: Stick to the prescribed medication dosage and frequency. Taking more medication than recommended can lead to adverse effects and may not provide additional pain relief.

Avoid prolonged immobility: While rest is important, prolonged immobilisation can contribute to stiffness and muscle weakness. Follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding mobility exercises and gradually increase activity levels as advised.

Don’t self-medicate: Avoid taking over-the-counter pain medications or other supplements without consulting your healthcare provider. They can interact with prescribed medications or interfere with the healing process.

Avoid excessive use of heat or cold therapy: Ice or heat therapy can be helpful for pain relief, but excessive use can damage the skin or affect blood circulation. Follow the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider.

Don’t ignore signs of complications: If you experience severe or worsening pain, unusual swelling, excessive bleeding, or any concerning symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. These may be signs of complications that require prompt attention.

Remember, each patient’s pain management plan may vary based on individual needs and the specifics of their surgery. It’s essential to closely follow the instructions provided by your healthcare team and maintain open communication throughout the recovery process.

This article ” Post-surgical pain control – Do’s and Don’ts ”  does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor for all medical advice. 

Meet Dr Peter Smith, a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon operating from the Mediclinic Milnerton in Cape Town, Western Cape. His practice is situated in the heart of this seaside town.  Dr Peter Smith not only offers patients the full spectrum of professional orthopaedic treatments, but specialises in total knee replacement, total hip replacement, sports injuries and the latest arthroscopic surgery techniques and computer guided surgery. He gained extensive experience in the latest arthroplasty techniques during his stay of 6 years in Australia where he performed more than a hundred primary and revision hip and knee replacements cases in a year.



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