Pain control is necessary to give patients the chance to go home after an outpatient spine surgery. Successful outpatient surgery centers utilize a multifaceted approach to reduce pain and swelling after an operation.

These are some of the modes often used to limit pain

Ice and cold therapies help reduce postoperative pain and swelling.

Depending on the patient’s medical history, not all these different techniques may be utilized.


Opioid Tolerance Affects Pain Relief

Patients having spine surgery may have been on opioids—also called narcotics or pain killers—at relatively high doses and/or for a prolonged period of time prior to surgery. If this is the case, they will have developed a certain level of tolerance for oral opioids and the medication may not be sufficiently effective in management of acute postoperative pain.

See Pain Killer Addiction Treatment


To address this issue, some surgeons will try to wean patients off the more potent narcotics prior to surgery. If opioid use prior to surgery can be decreased or eliminated it will to give the prescribed post-operative pain medications a chance to provide acute relief. If post-operative pain management is a concern, admission for inpatient observation may be a better choice.

Dr. John Shim is an orthopedic surgeon who has more than 25 years of experience. He is the President of ShimSpine, as well as a researcher and educator, serving as a Clinical Instructor at the University of South Florida Department of Orthopaedics and contributing chapters to medical textbooks on minimally invasive spine techniques.