Pain After Surgery

Please download this useful document which provides an overview of: Opioids for Pain after Surgery: Your questions answered.

Read the information in EN OR FR

You can also learn more by visiting ISMP Canada

How much pain can I expect after my surgery?

Everyone experiences pain and discomfort differently after surgery. Your health care team will assist you with pain management advice after your surgery.

Why is managing my pain important?

It is important to manage your pain because it means you will have less stress on your body. It will:

  • help with healing
  • decrease complications
  • prevent chronic or long-term pain from developing

Managing your pain early helps you to return to your everyday activities much sooner.
You can use words like mild, moderate or severe to describe your pain. You can also describe the type of pain you are having. For example, words like sharp, achy and throbbing may help the staff understand and treat your pain better.

Tips for managing my pain

Keep your pain at a level you can manage. Do not wait until your pain gets worse to ask for pain medication.

Take your pain medication regularly so you are ready to take part in all activities (such as walking, changing dressing (bandages) or going to the bathroom).

Depending on the pain medication you are taking, it can take up to 30 minutes to start working. Talk to your health care team about when to take your medication.

Who can help me?

Many members of the health care team can help you manage your pain, including a team of specially trained Nurse Practitioners and Anesthesiologists. Also, your family and friends can help you to be as comfortable as possible after your surgery. Talk about your pain with everyone involved in your care. Your health care team will help you find what works best to manage with your pain.

When will I be able to resume my usual activities again?

You will be able to do more and more activities as time passes, like walking and sitting in a chair for longer periods. Remember that some days you will feel better than others.

You can expect to get up and walk the day of your surgery with help from your Nurse or Physiotherapist. Each day, we will assess your activity level and help you become more independent.

How is my incision cared for in hospital?

After your surgery, you will have an incision (the cut from your surgery) that has been closed with staples or stitches. Your Nurse or Surgeon may check your incision every day.

  • If you have a dressing, your health care team will decide when to remove it.
  • You may notice some redness, swelling and oozing of fluid or blood around your incision. Do not be worried. This is normal.

How do I care for my incision when I go home?

Your health care team will show you how to care for your incision before you go home.

Watch for these symptoms. If you have any of these, call your health care team right away:

  • Fever (more than 38°C or 100°F)
  • New, increasing or worsening redness or swelling at or near your surgery incision
  • Pain that suddenly gets worse and is no longer relieved when you take pain medication
  • Yellow or green fluid leaking from your incision or more drainage or fluid than before
  • Bad smell coming from the incision

Follow these instructions:
1. Do not touch your incision.
2. Do not remove the scab or paper strips from your incision.
3. Do not put lotion, powder or any type of ointment on your incision.
Depending on your surgery, a decision will be made whether to remove your staples or stitches before you go home. If you go home with staples still in place, you may be provided with a staple remover and your Family Doctor or staff at a walk-in clinic can remove them. If you have questions, ask your Nurse or Surgeon.