Pain Relief after Surgery

This page will provide you with information about pain relief after surgery. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What are the benefits?

Most patients feel some degree of pain or discomfort following their surgical procedure. Pain relief is offered to patients to help them deal with the pain and has a number of benefits, for instance it can lower the likelihood of developing blood clots and chest infections, and prevent heart attacks.

Effective pain relief can limit your pain or discomfort, helping you to overcome your surgery quicker, enabling you to go home as soon as possible. All risks and complications of painkillers will be outlined by your consultant or our nursing team.

1.Simple painkillers

These include painkillers such as paracetamol, anti-inflammatories (including ibuprofen), codeine and tramadol. Patients may be offered these simple painkillers on their own or if their pain is more severe, they may be advised to take them alongside other painkillers.Simple painkillers can be an effective way to manage pain. Although they may not make you 100% pain-free, taking them may mean that you need a lower dosage of other painkillers.

2. Morphine and similar painkillers

For stronger pain relief, patients are sometimes offered morphine or similar painkillers, such as oxycodone, pethidine or diamorphine.

Intravenous delivery (drip)

Intravenous delivery is the method of pumping medication through a drip into a vein.

Alternative methods

So long as you are able to eat and drink normally, these painkillers can be taken orally. Or, in some cases, you can receive an injection made either into the relevant muscle or just beneath the surface of the skin.

3. Epidural anaesthetic

The majority of your nerves pass through an area near your spinal cord, known as the epidural space. Epidural anaesthetic involves injecting anaesthetic and painkillers into this space through a catheter, which is inserted into your lower back. Doing this will numb the nerves and should relieve you of pain. Some patients have an infusion, which means that the medication is delivered to them on a constant basis, with the healthcare team controlling the dosage. In some cases, patients are given a button which enables them to top up their medication if they feel like they need more pain relief.

4. Peripheral nerve blocks

If you have had an operation on your arm or leg, you may be offered a peripheral nerve block to help you manage the pain. This method involves injecting anaesthetic into the major nerves in the arm or leg in order to temporarily numb them.


If you feel pain or discomfort following your surgical procedure, pain relief can be a safe and effective way to manage it. Keeping your pain under control can help to speed up the recovery process, helping you to return home as soon as possible.


References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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