Main Page Content

How will my pain be managed?

We will work with you to manage your pain. We encourage you to take the pain medicine regularly. This will stop the pain from getting worse. You will only be on the pain medicine for a short time, so you will not become addicted to it.​​

We can give you pain medicine in different ways. See the list below. We will talk more about this at your pre-admission visit.

Epidural Pain Control

  • With an epidural, one of your doctors will put a small tube in your back. The tube is the same as the one used by women during childbirth. This is usually done right before your surgery.
  • To put it in, you need to lie on your side in a curled up position or sit up. The doctor will clean and freeze an area of your back. A needle is placed into your back. A small tube is placed through the needle. The needle is removed and the tube is taped to your back.
  • Medicine is given through the tube to provide pain relief. The epidural is left in place to give you pain medicine after your surgery. The medicine given is an opiate (pain killer) and local anaesthetic (freezing). The medicine may make your legs feel numb, heavy or difficult to move. Your nurse will check to see if this is a problem.
  • This tube will be attached to a pump. The pump gives you the medicine. You can give yourself more medicine if you need it. To do this you press a button on the pump. We will show you how to use your epidural pump during your pre-admission visit.

Extrapleural Catheter

  • You may receive pain medicine through a small tube placed under your skin where you incision is located. The medicine is put in using a machine. You may get your pain medicine this way for several days after your surgery.

Intravenous (IV) Patient Controlled Analgesic or PCA

  • A PCA pump is connected to your IV. The pump gives you pain medicine through your IV when you push the button. You should press the button:
    • when you start to feel pain
    • before you do something that brings on pain
    • before you do deep breathing and coughing exercises
    • before you start to move or turn.
  • ​You should feel the effects of pushing the button within 2 to 3 minutes. If you do not feel any pain relief, let your nurse know. There is a limit to how much pain medicine you can have in any 4 hours. To control how much medicine you get, the PCA pump has a safety timer called a lock out.
  • The lock out time is 5 to 10 minutes after you have pressed the button. If you press the button during the lockout time, you will not receive more medicine. Only you should press the button.
  • Do not use the PCA for gas pain

Intravenous (IV) Medicine

  • Your pain medication is given through an IV. It is important to let your nurse know when you have pain. They can give you the pain medicine. IF you do not feel and pain relief, let your nurse know.

Medicine by mouth

  • You will be given your pain medicine in tablet form. This will happen once you are drinking fluids and your pain is well controlled. Let your nurse know when you have pain. They can give you the pain medicine.

Once you move out of the SDU, you must ask for your pain medicine. Your nurse will not be in the room with you at all times. So, you must monitor your pain and ask for medicine as you need it. Once you are on the ward, expect to continue to need the pain medicine every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days. As you heal, the pain will get less and you will not need the pain medicine as often.

Are there any side effects of pain medicine?

Some patients may have some side effects. These can include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness
  • Itching

Tell your nurse if you have any of these side effects.

Are there any other ways to control my pain?

Relaxation Breathing

  • This involved redirecting your attention away from you pain and onto your breathing. You being by focusing on your breathing. Take slow deep breaths in through your nose. Blow the breaths out through your mouth.


  • Visualization involves imagining yourself without pain. You begin by closing your eyes. Imagine yourself in a place or specific time that brought you happiness. IT may be on a beach, at the cottage, or on a mountaintop. Try to remember the sounds, the smells, and every detail of the experience.


  • Gently rubbing your back, shoulders, or arms can relieve tension. This can help to decrease your pain. A family member can help you with this.

Therapeutic Touch

  • The nurse uses their hands to help with healing. The treatment can be used to decrease your pain. The Nurse Practitioner with the Pain Service can help arrange these treatments for you.​