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foot careA variety of medications are available today to help patients feel more comfortable following orthopedic surgery or after a musculoskeletal-related injury. Pain relief allows people to get back to regular activity, improve strength, and recover from painful events more quickly. It also helps patients follow post-surgical physical therapy programs with more comfort and early success.

Physicians recommend several different options for pain relievers to patients after surgery or injury. For pain control, these include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), non-NSAIDs, and local anesthetics. As the industry moves away from prescribing opioids, new, alternative approaches, such as medical hypnosis and acupuncture, are sometimes employed to supplement conventional medicine as well. A combined approach to pain management is often the best option because it allows the surgeon to tailor pain control methods to each individual’s needs.

 

What are the benefits of NSAIDs?

Often, the first choice for mild to moderate orthopedic bone or nerve-related pain are over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that alleviate pain while reducing inflammation at the site or source of the pain. OTC NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

 

How are these medications different?

  1. Ibuprofen is a short-acting medicine that can be taken every 4 to 6 hours
  2. Naproxen is long-acting and can be taken twice a day
  3. Aspirin provides pain relief but cannot be used by patients who have a bleeding disorder or can’t take blood thinners


What are non-NSAID pain relievers?

Non-NSAID pain relievers help moderate pain associated with muscle aches, pain, fever, headaches, and other common aches and pains, but they do not relieve inflammation. A non-NSAID pain reliever option is acetaminophen (Tylenol), and is often the pain reliever of choice if a person is on a blood thinner and cannot tolerate an NSAID. Acetaminophen is an analgesic which reduces pain signals within the nervous system and not at the site of the pain itself.

 

What are topical pain relief options?

Topical NSAIDs that are applied in small amounts directly to the skin, are an option for joint pain too and include diclofenac (Voltaren) or capsaicin ingredients.  Their main attraction is their potential to provide pain relief without associated gastrointestinal symptoms. Ask your physician or pharmacist if an OTC topical NSAID is right for you.

Be sure to ask your OrthoConnecticut physician about pain relief options that will ease your recovery process and enable you to get back to activity with as much comfort as possible.