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Managing Pain After Surgery

Panel 1


  • ALL medications you are taking, including: 
    • Antidepressants (like Prozac® or Celexa®) 
    • Opioids (like Vicodin® or Norco®) 
    • Sedatives (like Ambien® or Seroquel®) 
    • Benzodiazepines (like Valium®, Xanax®, or Klonopin®) 
    • Other prescription pain medications 
    • Illegal Drugs
  • If you can use over-the-counter medications, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) to manage your pain.
  • What you should do if your pain is not controlled.



  • Pain after surgery is called acute pain. Acute pain does not last a long time. 
  • This acute, surgical pain is normal and is usually worst the first 1-3 days. 
  • Your pain should be well controlled with a schedule of over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®).

If you have severe pain that is not managed by the regular, scheduled use of both acetaminophen and ibuprofen, please call your surgeon.

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For the First 3 Days:
After your procedure, use acetaminophen and ibuprofen together at regular, scheduled times:

9 A.M. Acetaminophen & Ibuprofen 1000 mg (2 pills of 500 mg) 600 mg (3 pills of 200 mg)
3 P.M. Acetaminophen & Ibuprofen 1000 mg (2 pills of 500 mg) 600 mg (3 pills of 200 mg)
9 P.M. Acetaminophen & Ibuprofen 1000 mg (2 pills of 500 mg) 600 mg (3 pills of 200 mg)


After 3 days:
Only take medications if you have pain. You can also choose to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen alone, instead of together, when needed for mild discomfort.

Medication is only one part of your pain management plan. Continue using non-drug options to help manage pain:

  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Watch TV
  • Daily Reflections or Meditation

Options as directed by your surgeon:

  • Ice
  • Elevation 
  • Compression 
  • Short Walks or Mild Exercise

Panel 3


  • Discuss all medications, minerals, vitamins and supplements with your surgeon or pharmacist before you take them.
  • Do not take more than the maximum daily dose allowed, unless directed by your doctor. 
  • Maximum daily doses of all medications are listed on the bottle labels.


  • Do not use if you have liver disease. 
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking acetaminophen. 
  • Review all medications with your pharmacist for those that may contain additional acetaminophen (like cold or cough medications).

IBUPROFEN (Motrin® or Advil®):

  • Prior to taking ibuprofen, discuss with your surgeon or pharmacist if you have:
    • A history of stomach ulcers or bleeds 
    • A heart condition 
    • Other bleeding disorders 
    • Taken blood thinners 
    •  Renal (kidney) disease
  • Take ibuprofen with food.

Information in this brochure was developed by Michigan OPEN for the typical patient with your condition. It does not replace medical advice from your health care provider as your experience may differ from the typical patient. Questions about this document, your condition or your treatment should be discussed with your health care provider.


Managing Pain After Surgery