Better Control of Postoperative Pain Needed

Pain should be routinely monitored and controlled with analgesics

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Postoperative pain should be routinely monitored and controlled using oral analgesics starting with acetaminophen and progressing to opioids for severe pain, according to a Clinical Update in the March 10 issue of The Lancet.

Paul Myles, M.D., of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and Ian Power, M.D., of the University of Edinburgh in the U.K., note that patient surveys in various countries have reported poor postoperative control of pain.

The authors recommend that patients should be frequently assessed for pain levels using the visual analog scale, and note that increased pain or need for analgesics could be a sign of a postoperative complication.

Patients should first be treated with oral analgesics starting with acetaminophen in adjunct with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors for minor surgery, they suggest. Opioids and/or local analgesic techniques should be used for moderate to severe pain in patients undergoing more extensive surgery.

"Improved pain relief after surgery can be assisted by the routine measurement of pain intensity, and routine use of simple multimodal analgesic regimens," Myles and Power conclude. "These simple efforts, applied widely, can dramatically improve surgical patients' postoperative pain experience."

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