Of course you need pain medication after your surgery. No one is suggesting you won’t be in pain, but doctors are more nervous than ever about over prescribing pain medication. But even in the best of circumstances, pain meds can cause problems.
Take your pain medication PRN
Narcotics and other opioids that help with pain have side effects. Aside from constipation, there’s the issue of addiction. There’s a growing opioid epidemic in America but even when used appropriately, there can be problems with your pain meds.
Some patients are considered opioid naive. This simply means they’re not used to taking pain medication so when they do, for example after surgery when it’s very appropriate, the medication can be too strong. In other words, even when they take the proper amount, it can lead to decreased breathing. And a decreased respiratory rate can lead to no breathing.
The best way to avoid this situation is to start with taking one pain pill every four hours. If you need more, then take two pills. But the most important thing to remember is what’s written on the prescription. Take “prn” – as needed. So if you need it, take it. But if you’re sleeping, that means you don’t need it because obviously you’re comfortable enough to be sleeping.
Pain meds can be our friends. We just have to respect them!