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Before Your Surgery

Before your surgery, you will have one or several appointments with your doctor (surgeon or other specialist) to discuss the details of your procedure, your health and potentially run some tests (for example, blood tests and scans). One of these appointments will be your pre-op assessment.

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Your pre-op assessment

This is a great opportunity to get more comfortable about what is coming up. Think about any questions you may have in advance so that you leave the meeting feeling informed.

Did you know?

Patients who are involved in their treatment decisions, including their pain management, tend to be happier with their surgery than those who don’t.1,2

Knowing what to expect - pain

You are likely to experience discomfort or pain after surgery. It is often called post-operative pain or ‘acute pain’ – pain that is expected to last for only a limited amount of time.

There are various medication options available to you to help tackle acute pain:

  • Common painkillers
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which tackle inflammation as well as pain
  • Opioids, which offer powerful pain relief and are only available by prescription

There are also non-pharmaceutical options to tackle pain after surgery, including cold therapy and massage.

The medications may be delivered in different ways and combinations:

Intravenous or subcutaneous analgesia

Delivered in the bloodstream or under the fat tissue.

Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia

Here, you are in charge of when you receive your intravenous (iv) pain relief, called patient-controlled analgesia (or PCA).

Epidural analgesia

Injected in the back (specifically the space that surrounds the spinal cord) to numb the nerves.

Continuous infusion analgesia

Delivered directly to the surgical site or intravenously.

Oral analgesia

Delivered as tablets.

Sublingual patient-controlled analgesia

A recent innovation, whereby you are in charge of administering your pain relief, taking the tablets as and when you need them.

Transdermal iontophoretic analgesia

Delivered through the skin, without a needle, in the form of an electrical current.

Monitoring your pain

Your healthcare team will work with you to manage your pain immediately after your surgery; for example, they may ask you to rate your pain from 0 to 10 using what is called a pain scale.

Pain severity at rest

no pain

worst imaginable pain


Pain severity with movement

no pain

worst imaginable pain


Start the discussion about pain management early to ensure that you get the best possible treatment and return to your normal day-to-day activities sooner. Remember, managing your pain can help to speed up your recovery and get you home quicker.

See 'Your recovery' for more information.

Did you know?

Patients who are in charge of their pain management are more satisfied than patients whose pain relief is delivered by their healthcare team.3

Your Surgery

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  • References

    1. Sauaia A et al. (2005) J Am Geriatr Soc. 53:274–282.

    2. Schwenkglenks M et al. (2014) PAIN®. 155:1401–1411.

    3. Ebneshahidi A et al. (2012) Adv Biomed Res 1:1–4.