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UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

Pain Management

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Pain Management

We know that pain is a prime reason you are having surgery.  After surgery you will experience incisional pain in addition to the pain that brought you to us.    We will ask you frequently to tell us about your pain: how would you rate its intensity on 0-10 scale with 10 being the worst pain? where is the pain? is it constant or intermittent?  is it sharp or dull?  We will ask you what your tolerable pain level is and work to get your pain to that level or better.

There are many different ways of relieving pain.  You may be given IV, oral, epidural (spinal) or a nerve blocking medication or any combination of these medications after surgery to relieve your pain. 

You may be set up with a computerized device to dispense small amounts of medication as you direct either through the IV called a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) or to the spine called a PCEA (Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia.)  This computer is programmed from your doctor's directions and will limit the total amount of medication you receive over an hour. It is safe if it is used correctly, which is only by you when you need it.  You cannot get addicted because the amount and duration of this medication is short.  But if you don't use it, you will not get pain relief.  We ask that only you press the button on any of these computerized devices.

You may be given oral medication at 4 to 6 hour intervals as you ask for it from the RN.  This is ‘prn' medication.  This medication will be backed up by medication for the pain that "breaks through" the 4 to 6-hour period.  This 'breakthrough medication' may be oral or IV and it will be absorbed at a different rate in your body than the oral prn pain medication.  Muscle relaxers and medication for anxiety are also available with a doctor's order.

Your RN will be evaluating your response to pain medication and will contact your doctor to make adjustments as needed to relieve your pain and keep you safe.

If we are giving you pain medication and it is not working, please tell us so we can contact your doctor for additional orders. 

You will be transitioned to oral pain medication prior to leaving the hospital.

Constipation is a problem associated with surgery and pain medication.  You will receive oral stool softeners twice a day.  Some surgeons prescribe rectal suppositories to stimulate a bowel movement.  Laxatives are available, as you need them.   If you are uncomfortable, please consult the RN about the options available to you for relief.  If there is something that you take at home, let your doctor know so it can be ordered for you to take here.

It is often difficult to sleep in the hospital.   If you take a sleeping pill at home, let your doctor know so it can be ordered for you to take here.  If you do not, a mild sleeping pill will be ordered for you to help you get a good night's sleep.  If there is a noise or light that is keeping you awake or you just can't get comfortable, let us know.  We will do our best to make the environment conducive to sleep.

We have included a pamphlet about Pain Control for your information.

If you have any questions about this portion of the website, please contact us at orthospineinfo@mednet.ucla.edu.