Undergoing surgery can be a frightening experience. One of many patients’ concerns is the possibility of experiencing excruciating pain afterwards and the fear that this pain may not be adequately treated. While some degree of discomfort is to be expected, and of course some surgeries are associated with more post-op pain than others, this should be tolerable and allow for a smooth and hopefully uneventful recovery.
The cornerstone of post-operative pain control involves administering narcotic medications such as morphine and dilaudid through an IV catheter. But the use of narcotics alone can result in unpleasant side effects including nausea and vomiting. That is why the anesthesiologists at Crestwood Medical Center believe in using regional anesthesia, which involves placing medication close to the nerves that supply the area of the body where the surgery is being performed. This medication numbs that area in very much the same way that a dentist numbs your mouth. The area will likely be numb for a number of hours, sometimes as long as 24 hours after a single injection, or even longer if a catheter is left in place for continued delivery of medicine.
In most cases, patients who receive regional anesthesia wake up after surgery and do not even require narcotics. These patients are also more alert in recovery and are ready to go home sooner than patients who receive only narcotics for pain control. For patients spending the night in the hospital, they can typically expect to be pain free for as long as the block lasts (12-24 hours or longer), which at a minimum will allow them to rest comfortably the night following surgery. Over time the block will resolve and the numbness will dissipate. Fortunately this occurs after the most painful period has passed. At this point the pain can typically be managed with narcotics that can be given orally along with other medications, such as Tylenol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.
Performing regional anesthesia does require some technical expertise. But you can rest assured because the physicians in Crestwood Medical Center’s anesthesia department perform more than 100 blocks per month and their success rate for achieving a successful block is far above average.
For more information, please call:
Crestwood Medical Center
One Hospital Drive
Huntsville, AL 35801