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Questions To Ask Your Surgeon

Pain tells your child that their body is healing and that they might need to balance activity with rest. It is an uncomfortable but natural part of recovery. The amount of pain, how long it lasts, and when it peaks varies based on the procedure that the child undergoes. Each child can have a different emotional response to pain as well, which changes their pain experience.

Helping Your Child Recover Well

Every child recovers from surgery in their own way, and kids who have the same procedure might have completely different experiences of pain. In most cases, the pain will not be long-lasting and will get better with time and healing. This is called acute pain. The goal with acute pain is to manage it in a safe way, so children can heal and recover well. They should be able to drink, eat, and sleep as best as possible given their post-surgical condition.

Pain can be managed using both medication and non-medication options as part of a larger pain management plan to be discussed with your surgeon.

Boost Your Post-op IQ: Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

Below are some questions to consider when meeting with your child’s surgeon. Getting answers to these questions can help you navigate your child’s recovery with more confidence.

  • What level of pain is typical after this surgery?
  • When should I expect the pain to improve?
  • When should I be concerned if the pain doesn’t improve?
  • What can I do to help the pain improve? Will over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol® (acetaminophen) and Motrin® or Advil® (ibuprofen) be recommended, and will you provide dosing instructions for them? Should I use them only if needed or on a schedule? Should I get them before surgery?
  • Do you recommend prescription medication such as an opioid for my child? How much will you prescribe and at what dose? What are the risks of using an opioid?
  • If I choose not to fill an opioid prescription for my child, will you honor that decision?
  • If I don’t get an opioid prescription after surgery but then need it during recovery, how difficult is it to get later
  • Does the hospital have Child Life services who can offer preoperative experiences including tours and websites explaining the surgery process?

The answers to these questions will vary based on the surgery your child is having. If your surgeon is using medical
language that you don’t understand, ask them to rephrase it using common language.

Discuss With Your Surgeon

If your child has risk factors for opioid addiction, including depression, anxiety, current medication use, prior opioid misuse, or a family history of addiction

  • If your child has increased anxiety about their surgery
  • Any other concerns you may have about your child having surgery.


After your visit, reach out to your surgeon’s office if you have any additional questions.

Next Page: How can I prepare for my child’s surgery?