Post-surgical pain may be caused by surgery, tissue damage at the incision site, the closing of the wound, or force applied during the procedure. Lying on the surgical table or using a breathing tube during surgery may also cause post-surgical pain.
Types of Post-Surgical Pain
The most common type of post-surgical pain, nociceptive pain, is typically caused by tissue damage to muscle, bone, skin, and organs. Other causes include an ankle sprain, a dental procedure, or a burn.
A few types of nociceptive pain include:
Superficial somatic pain. Caused by surface injuries, such as cuts, bruises, burns, and surgical incisions.
- Deep somatic pain. Occurs in tissues deep within the body, including ligaments, bones, muscles, and tendons.
Visceral pain. Originates from internal organs and may be difficult to pinpoint the exact source.
Another form of pain, neuropathic pain, may be caused by damage to nerve cells, injury, or disease. The two types of neuropathic pain include:
Central neuropathic pain (CNP). Caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord during brain, head, or spinal surgery.
Peripheral neuropathic pain. Arises from nerves outside of the brain
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and spinal cord. Joint replacement surgery may lead to pain in the nerves of the arms or legs.
Referred pain occurs when the brain is unable to identify the source of pain. This can happen if the brain receives bundled information from different parts of the body through one set of nerves. For example, a heart attack may lead to referred pain in the left arm because nerve signals from both the heart and the arm are sent to the brain together.
Phantom limb pain can occur after surgery to remove a limb and refers to a continued sensation in a body part that has been amputated. This type of pain can also be felt in non-limb body parts, such as a removed breast.
The right treatment for post-surgical pain will depend on the severity of pain and the underlying cause. At Central Nevada Regional Care, patients may be treated with pain management therapy, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine.
Pain management therapy may encompass a range of treatments, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, hot and cold therapy, massage, cognitive behavior therapy, yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, meditation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, opioids, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.
Some patients suffering from surgical pain may struggle to complete daily life activities and job duties. In these cases, occupational medicine could help the patient adjust to the demands of the workplace as they recover. Staff at Central Nevada Regional Care are also trained to help employers make adjustments in the workplace to support employees suffering from post-surgical pain. Occupational medicine can help both employers and injured employees create a plan taking into account the employee’s capabilities and the employer’s needs.
Some patients may need advanced treatment, such as chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and even additional surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak to their physician at Central Nevada Regional Care to learn more about obtaining advanced treatment for post-surgical pain.
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