Helping Patients Get Comfortable After Injury or Surgery

Things you can do to help your patients implement their pain management plan and increase their comfort after injury or surgery

  • Remind patients that pain is part of the normal healing process after surgery. Pain is the worst the first few days after surgery, but it will improve day by day.
  • Encourage patients to monitor their pain levels and to check with you about unexpected pain to rule out a rare problem.
  • Remind patients take as little opioid medication as possible and reiterate why this is important to reduce the risk of misuse.
  • Share strategies with your patients that will help them get comfortable:
    • Add oral acetaminophen – either 2 extra strength every 6 hours or 2 regular strength every 4 hours for 2 days, not taking more than 4000 milligrams a day.
    • Add ibuprofen 600 or 800 mg every 6 hours for 2 days
    • Stagger acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 3 hours
    • Elevate the surgical area
    • Apply ice 10 minutes on, 5 minutes off
    • As the nerve block is wearing off, take the stronger pain reliever every 3 hours for the next 3 doses.

Share this pain relief video with your patients to help them prepare for postoperative pain.

  • Discuss how the patient’s family and friends can help with physical activities that are difficult for the patient after surgery and provide emotional support during recovery.
  • Encourage patients to establish a social network—including family members and friends, visiting nurses, home health aides, and neighborhood volunteers—to provide emotional and physical support during recovery.2

Following surgery, be sure to document your discussions about postoperative pain and the pain management plan, as well as the results of the opioid risk assessment. You can use this template or create your own.


1. Agency Medical Directors’ Group. Interagency Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Pain.

2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Information statement: Opioid use, misuse, and abuse in orthopaedic practice.,%20Misuse,%20and%20Abuse%20in%20Practice.pdf.