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After undergoing a surgical procedure, the familiar course of treatment used to be prescriptions of pain medication, application of any topical treatment, and rest and hydration. Things are a little different in this day and age, however, and one of the primary reasons is the surge in opioid addiction.

Opioid drugs have long been touted as excellent pain relievers. They bind to receptors in our central nervous systems and results in a lack of ability to feel pain combined with an endorphin rush. Although they are available legally by prescription, typical opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine are highly addictive. For this reason, the healthcare industry is looking for other means of convalescence when it comes to their patients. 

One of the best ways to avoid addiction is to avoid something altogether. There are non-opioid pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen that will manage pain if taken as prescribed. While they may not be a complete release, they are non-addictive and will save you trouble down the road. If you do feel the need to take opioids, minimize your exposure as much as possible. There is a much lower risk of addiction if you space out your doses or cut amounts in half. 

Another built-in aid is your mental toughness. Doctors have started giving patients a more realistic outlook at the recovery process, explaining that pain and soreness are part of the road to healing. With a more honest timeline, it’s easier to accept levels of pain and the fact that there is no magic answer without consequence. Many hospitals are asking for a pain management plan to be filled out before a procedure. This plan is then followed afterward so there are no unrealistic expectations. There are also common-sense techniques to use post-op, such as elevating a body part to decrease blood flow to that area and prevent swelling. Ice is also a great tool when it comes to providing relief and decreasing swelling, and diligent wound care is advised to keep infection at bay. Moderate physical therapy, when it’s done after an appropriate amount of rest, is another way to help your body regain stretch to help fight physical issues.