Opioid addiction has gained a lot of attention lately. Patients often begin taking opioids after surgery in order to manage pain, but then when they try to ease themselves off of the medications, they find that they are addicted. Opioid drugs can be used responsibly, but if you are someone who has a history of addiction, you may want to avoid them entirely after surgery. Is this even possible? How can you keep your foot pain manageable after a podiatric surgery? Managing post-surgery pain without opioids is possible, and you can do so by following these tips.
Invest in an Ice Machine
The key to keeping your pain under control post-surgery is keeping inflammation down. One of the best ways to do that is by icing your foot. Applying ice to your foot directly might be difficult, but you can purchase or rent a device called an ice machine from your doctor or a local physical therapy clinic. This machine has a cuff that will fit over your foot. Ice water will circulate through the cuff, keeping it at a consistent, cold temperature.
Using an ice machine allows you to keep ice on your foot almost constantly after surgery, which is really important especially in the first three or four days after your procedure. The ice will dull the pain to the point that you do not need to take opiates, and it will also keep inflammation down for even greater pain relief.
Take NSAIDS Regularly
Over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen can effectively relieve pain after foot surgery, and they are not addictive. The key, however, is to begin taking them right away before the pain sets in. This way, they will help keep inflammation from even developing in the first place. Take your first dose of NSAID before you even leave the hospital and then stick to a strict schedule, whether you feel like you need another dose or not.
Naproxen lasts 8-12 hours, so you will have to take it two or three times per day. Ibuprofen lasts 4-6 hours, so you will need to take it 4-6 times per day. Confirm the best dose with your doctor. They may tell you that it is okay to take more than the bottle recommends for the first few days after surgery.
Stay Off Your Foot
Your podiatrist will tell you when it is safe to start walking again. Follow this advice — do not try to walk or even put pressure on your foot prematurely. Doing so can irritate the recovering tissues and make the pain even worse.
Make sure you have someone stay with you and prepare your meals, help you get to the bathroom, and so forth so that you are not tempted to put weight on your foot as you do these things yourself.
Drink Plenty of Water
If you become dehydrated, which is pretty common post-surgery when you're not really active, your body won't be as able to circulate blood to the healing tissues, so your healing rate may be slower and you may experience more pain. Make sure you're drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water per day, even though you're couch-bound. You can add some lemon juice, sugar-free flavoring, or even fresh fruit to the water to make it more appealing.
With the tips above, you can manage your post-surgery pain without the need for opiates. Make sure you tell your doctor you are not planning on taking opioid pain relievers during recovery. They may be able to give you additional tips for managing pain, depending on the exact surgery you had.