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Surgery – Learn the Facts: Opioids and Pain Management

Panel 1:

UNDERSTANDING PAIN AFTER SURGERY

The GOAL OF PAIN MANAGEMENT is to manage your pain enough to allow you to do the things you need to do in order to heal: walk, eat, breathe deeply and sleep.

Pain Expectations

  • Feeling pain after surgery is normal.
  • Pain is usually worst for the first 2-3 days after surgery.
  • Your pain may be well controlled with a schedule of over-the-counter medications.
  • Pain medication is only one part of your pain management plan.
  • Other things you can do to help manage pain:
    • mindful breathing
    • music
    • physical therapy
    • relaxation
    • meditation
    • daily reflection
    • short walks

 

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Using opioid medications can cause harm to a fetus, including neonatal abstinence syndrome.


Panel 2:

USING OPIOIDS SAFELY

BEFORE SURGERY:

  • Ask your surgeon if you can use over-the counter acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) for your pain, before using an
    opioid.
  • Tell your surgeon if you are currently taking any sedatives or benzodiazepines (like Valium or Xanax).

 

AFTER SURGERY:

  • If you are still in a lot of pain after taking an over-the-counter pain medicine, use the opioid medicine your surgeon gave you.
  • DO NOT mix opioids with alcohol, benzodiazepines (like Valium or Xanax), muscle relaxers, or other medications that can cause sleepiness.
  • As your pain gets better, wait longer between
    taking opioids.
  • Only use the opioids for your surgical pain. Do not use your opioids for other reasons.
  • Talk to your surgeon if you are having trouble managing your pain.

 

If your pain is manageable, do not use your opioids.


Panel 3:

KNOW THE RISKS

You are at higher risk of developing a DEPENDENCE OR ADDICTION to opioids if you:

  • HAVE A HISTORY OF:
    • Abusing alcohol, prescription, or recreational drugs
    • Using tobacco
    • Depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders
    • Long-term (chronic) pain
  • TAKE OPIOIDS FOR LONGER THAN A FEW DAYS
  • TAKE OPIOIDS MORE OFTEN THAN YOUR SURGEON PRESCRIBED

 

You are at risk of an OVERDOSE if you:

  • HAVE A HISTORY OF:
    • Sleep apnea
    • Other breathing problems
  • MIX OPIOIDS WITH:
    • Alcohol
    • Benzodiazepines (like Valium® or Xanax®)
    • Muscle relaxers
    • Any medications that can cause drowsiness
    • Recreational drugs
  • TAKE OPIOIDS MORE OFTEN THAN YOUR SURGEON PRESCRIBED

 

DO NOT SHARE YOUR OPIOIDS with others. Diversion (sharing or selling) of opioids is a felony.


Panel 4:

YOU are the most important member of your healthcare team. Ask questions and get the FACTS before taking opioids to manage your pain.

WHAT IS AN OPIOID?

An opioid is a strong prescription pain medication. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, dizziness and/or constipation.

Common opioids include:

Generic NameBrand Name
CodeineTylenol® #3* or #4*
FentanylDuragesic®
HydrocodoneVicodin®*, Norco®*
HydromorphoneDilaudid®
MethadoneMethadose®
MorphineMS Contin®, Kadian
OxycodonePercocet®*, OxyContin®
OxymorphoneOpana®
TramadolUltram®, Ultracet®*

* Contains acetaminophen (Tylenol). Use caution if you’re also taking acetaminophen separately.


Panel 5:

SAFE STORAGE AND DISPOSAL

Store opioids out of sight and reach of children, teens, and pets

  • Store opioids in private areas and lock up your pills if possible.
  • Do not store your opioids in common rooms in the house (like bathrooms, kitchens) or in purses.
  • Keep a count of how many pills you have left.

 

Dispose of all unused opioids

  • Use a permanent medication drop box.
  • Drop off at a community Medication Take Back event.
  • Use your household trash as a last resort.
    • Mix opioids (do not crush) with used coffee grounds or kitty litter in a plastic bag and throw away.
    • Scratch out personal information on the prescription label and dispose of the original container.

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

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Surgery – Learn the Facts: Opioids and Pain Management

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