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Controlling Your Pain

There are many ways to control your pain and your physician along with the anesthesiologist will decide on the best way after your surgery.  More than one method of pain control may be used to help with the pain of surgery.

Pain Control Methods

  • Epidural - administration of continuous pain medication through a small tube in the epidural space in your spine
  • Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) - medication is administered on demand through the IV line. The patient can press a button and a machine will administer the medication. A nurse may also administer additional pain medication through the IV line if needed.
  • Anesthetic Blocks - numbing medication infused through a small tube placed by the anesthesiologist near the nerve(s) in your leg. 
  • Oral pain medication
    • Long-acting pain medications- You may be given long-acting pain medication that is prescribed by your doctor to be taken at a scheduled time of day. These long-acting pain medications provide a "baseline" pain control.
    • As needed pain medications- As needed pain medications are usually prescribed every 4 to 6 hours "as needed" for pain. These can be taken with long-acting pain medications or alone for pain management after surgery. These pain medications may be needed around the clock initially following your surgery.
    • Everyone's pain needs are different. Some people are able to decrease their pain medications after a few days. Some people will need a few weeks before they are able to wean themselves from their pain medications.
  • Ice
  • Repositioning

Measuring Your Pain

The nursing staff will ask you to “score” your pain on a scale from 0-10. Zero is no pain and 10 is severe pain. Your pain will be assessed before and after you receive something for the pain. This is done to assess how well your pain responded to the medications given to you.

Remember that some pain after joint replacement surgery is normal. Our goal is to keep the pain at a level that is considered tolerable to you. Your care team’s target is for you to have a 4 or less on the pain scale.

Medication at Home

Gradually, the stronger pain medication is changed to a form of medication that can be given at home. Within 1-2 days of surgery you will be started on pain medications that are in a pill or tablet form. This will be the medication you are given to be taken at home. It is important to take the medication prior to therapy and activity.