I Have Pain After Surgery: What Could It Be?

You’ve sunk time and money into surgery, accepted its risks, and taken a leap of faith — you expected to feel less pain by now. You’re not alone in your disappointment. 

Many, like you, turn to surgery and come out the other side right back where they started: reeling in pain. 

Pain is often part of recovery, but you shouldn’t feel discomfort for more than a few days to weeks. When your symptoms return with a vengeance, it’s time to call in a pain management expert. 

Dr. David Wu and our team at CurePain have years of experience connecting people to pain management methods that actually work, and we can help you finally beat pain that’s sticking around even after you’ve tried everything. 

Here’s what you should know about lingering post-op pain and what you can do about it. 

Explaining the pain

Surgical pain is incredibly complicated. Two people seldom experience it the same way, and there are a variety of factors that can contribute to the symptoms. 

First and foremost, a major surgery can simply wreak havoc on your body, and you may struggle to bounce back. Scar tissue buildup (though a sign of proper healing) can also be a source of chronic pain. 

Another reason for post-surgery pain can be traced back to your surgeon. Undue force, mistakes during the operation, and even the position you were lying in on the surgical table can trigger an avalanche of painful symptoms. 

It’s also possible that surgery wasn’t the right treatment for you, so even if your procedure went perfectly, the operation didn’t solve your underlying source of pain. 

Surgery that involves inserting hardware (screws, pins, or plates) can also land you in a long battle with post-op pain. 

There are two main types of surgical pain, and understanding which type you have is key to getting help. Here’s a closer look. 

Nociceptive pain

Nociceptive pain stems from tissue damage — something surgery is known for. Any surgical procedure (no matter how minimally invasive) can cause nociceptive pain. 

For example, you may feel superficial discomfort at the site of your incision, deep somatic pain from the incisions your surgeon made in your muscles and internal tissue, or visceral pain from damage to your internal organs. 

Neuropathic pain

Surgical procedures can also cause nerve damage and trigger neuropathic pain. We can categorize neuropathic pain in two ways: central neuropathic pain (CNP) and peripheral neuropathic pain. 

CNP occurs when there’s damage to your brain or spinal cord; peripheral neuropathic pain occurs when the nerves outside your central nervous system have been damaged. 

Referred pain

Sometimes, your brain can’t even tell where your pain originates. We call this phenomenon referred to as pain. It happens when your brain receives mixed messages from different parts of your body through one set of nerves, and it’s a common complication of surgery. 

Getting help

Treatment for post-surgical pain is just as complicated as the pain itself, but that doesn’t stop us. 

After thoroughly reviewing your surgical and medical history, we create a pain management plan to address your unique pain symptoms. Typically, that includes a combination of pain-reducing injections, physical therapy, platelet-rich plasma, and even cognitive strategies to help you cope. 

Surgery is often a last resort for chronic pain. But if you’re still experiencing symptoms and surgery has failed you, you’re not out of luck. We can work with you to find the right treatments to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. 

When you’re ready to talk with our pain management specialist, call our friendly staff at 424-232-8930 or book an appointment online at our Torrance, California, office today.

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