The goals of postoperative pain management are to enable you to do the required physical therapy and to minimize pain and stress. If a general or spinal anesthesia was used during your surgery, postoperative pain relief may be delivered intravenously. You will be able to control the flow of medication, within preset limits, as you feel the need for additional relief. This process is often referred to as patient-controlled anesthesia, or PCA.
If an epidural block was used during your surgery, the epidural catheter can be left in place and anesthesia continued afterwards to help control pain. You will also have control over the amount of pain medication you receive, within preset limits. You will be closely monitored to ensure that no complications such as excessive sedation or compartment syndrome, an excessive build-up of pressure within the muscles, develop. Your doctor may also prescribe other pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to help control pain after surgery. However, if you are also taking drugs to help prevent blood clots, your use of these pain relievers or any other medications that could further thin the blood will need to be monitored closely.
The proper use of pain relievers before, during and after your surgery is an extremely important aspect of your treatment, can encourage healing, and can make your joint replacement a more satisfying experience. Take time to discuss the options with your doctor and ask questions.