After Your Surgery
After Your Surgery
General post operative expectations
- Pain is normal after surgery and levels vary from person to person. Pain is very dependent on the type of surgery performed.
- Mostly I expect pain to improve substantially after 48hrs. Soft tissue surgery pain improves quicker than any surgery requiring bony work.
- Strong pain medication is opiate based and will stop breathing if too much is given.
- Opiate based analgesia will often cause nausea and vomiting and lower blood pressure.
- Opiates also cause constipation.
- Orthopaedics uses a mix of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatories, Paracetamol and local anaesthetic blocks to minimise opiate use.
- Pain with movement is expected and will improve despite guided movement which is essential. Any pain that does not subside while at rest MUST be reported due to concerns regarding pressure affecting circulation or the onset of infection.
- Swelling of the limb is expected but should subside with ice and elevation. It can recur with activity especially if the limb is dependant. It is mostly evident in the first 3 weeks post op.
- The tendency to swell may continue for up to 6 months depending on the age of the patient, the surgery performed and the condition of the limb circulation prior to surgery.
- Part of the healing process involves the formation of scar tissue. This will and can result in pain with stretching and a sensation of stiffening up with immobility. Stiffness is improved with regular small movements. Scar tissue matures and remodels with movement over a total period of 18 months.
- Bleeding from the surgical site is normal and can often track between the tissue plains to become visible distant to the surgery site as it flows with gravity. It is exacerbated using a blood thinner to prevent DVT’s. It will be visible as bruising and will resolve over a 4-week period.
- Surgical wounds need dressings for a minimum of 14 days post-surgery.
- Wounds may often bleed slightly with blood spotting of the dressing. Dressings must remain undisturbed if they are not completely blood stained.
- Wound dressings may develop a greenish stain around the blood spots. This is normal.
- Any stains or bleeding on dressings should not progress or become larger after 72 hrs. If they do then this must be reported.
- Itching around the wound is normal, but if this is associated with increased redness around the circumference of the dressing then this must be reported as it may be an allergy.
- Redness that tracks from the wound up the limb toward the body and associated with increased pain MUST be reported as this could be infection.
- Post operative fatigue with activity is normal as your body will use up a lot of energy to heal. Rest as needed and modify your expectations. It takes 6 weeks for your physiology to begin normalizing after surgery.