How will my pain be managed post-surgery?

May 10, 2021

The amount of pain you have after a colectomy will depend on your other health factors and how much of your colon was removed.  You may have a PCA (patient-controlled anesthesia pump) with a button to push when you need pain medicine.  Don’t worry, the pump is programmed so that you cannot get too much medicine…but it is important for you to use it when you need it.  I would encourage you NOT to have a friend/family member press the pain medication button.  You should always be in control and responsible.  You may have this pump until you are able to eat and take pain medicine by mouth. 

Everyone reacts to pain in a different way.  A scale from 0-10 is used to measure pain.  At a “0” you do not feel any pain.  A “10” is the worst pain you have ever felt.  Following a laparoscopic procedure, pain is sometimes felt in the shoulder.  This is due to the gas inserted into your abdomen during the procedure.  Moving and walking help to decrease the gas and shoulder pain. 

Narcotic (Opioid) Pain Medication -

Narcotics or opioids are used when you cannot function due to severe pain.  Possible side effects of narcotics are sleepiness, lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate, skin rash and itching, constipation, nausea and difficulty urinating. Some examples of narcotics include morphine, oxycodone. (Percocet ®/Percodean ® and hydromorphone (Dilaudid ®)  Medications can be given to control many of the side effects of narcotics. 

Non-narcotic pain medication -

Most non-opioid analgesics are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  They are used to treat mild pain and inflammation or are combined with narcotics to treat sever pain.  Possible side effects of NSAIDs are stomach upset, bleeding in the digestive tract, and fluid retention.  These side effects usually are not seen with short term use.  Let your doctor know if you have heart, kidney, or liver problems.  Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, Motrin ® Aleve ® and Toradol ® (given as a shot).