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Pain Medication Refills after Hysterectomy

From the Hysterectomy Recovery Articles List

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Pain Medication Refills after hysterectomyWhy won’t my doctor refill my pain medication prescription?

There are several reasons that doctors may opt not refill narcotic pain pill prescriptions following a hysterectomy. Concerns can range from constipation to addiction. Plus, not all women need pain medication following a hysterectomy.

A big issue is that many pain medications are notorious for causing constipation, a side effect that can be especially problematic for women who have had a hysterectomy. As you get further into recovery and your pain decreases, switching to over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful for both pain and the constipation concerns. Check with your doctor to ask what type and dose is appropriate for you.

Use of pain medications can give patients the feeling that they can resume their normal activities too soon because their body’s warning system has been silenced by the pain medications. Patients may vacuum, lift, clean, go grocery shopping, etc. as they mistakenly feel like they are healing quickly and well, when in reality the pain medications prevent them from feeling the aches that would have warned them they needed to rest.

Overdoing activities while on pain medications can then lead to issues with addiction, continuing a domino effect. Patients may believe they need more pain medication because their pain is getting worse, but the increased pain can be from using the medication in the first place. A developing addiction can cause physical behaviors that include overuse of the healing part of the body, poor posture from a lack of sensation when in positions that wouldn’t be comfortable without the medications, and a lack of gentle strengthening exercises. When recovering from a hysterectomy, there is already surgical pain, a change in posture during the recovery, and exercise restrictions, so patients can more easily fall into the pain medication trap.

Abuse of prescription pain medication is a very real problem today for people of all ages and walks of life. Some people become addicted to prescription pain medications following a legitimate injury or illness. They may continue to take the medication once the pain issue has been alleviated as it has been helping them relax and/or sleep. Later, a stressful situation arises and the leftover pills offer a means of escape for a little while.

Depending on a doctor’s experience, s/he may be reluctant to prescribe more than a handful of prescription pain pills even though a woman has just undergone a major surgery. The issue is not necessarily that the doctor feels the patient has an addiction problem or even that the patient does not have legitimate pain; it is simply protective protocol for the doctor and the patient.

Here are some tips that can help a woman work with her medical team so she has adequate pain control for her recovery without causing new problems.
  1. Not all surgeons are equipped to prescribe, or are comfortable prescribing, pain medications past the initial 20 or 30, especially if this doctor is your surgeon only and not a doctor with whom you have a long term relationship. Thus, it can be very important to have a good relationship with your primary physician who may be more willing to manage the pain and prescribe pain medications. A doctor who knows you well is going to be more aware of your ability to use prescription pain medications wisely.
  2. Keeping a symptom diary can help you and your doctor be more aware of the specific pain and how it is being managed. If a doctor can “see” what you are experiencing, s/he may be more willing to help with pain medications.
  3. Communicating clearly and unemotionally is a plus. The more agitated one is, the more red flags that may be raised that the pain medications are not being used carefully and safely.
  4. If you need a refill, call and ask to be scheduled to see the doctor because you are having ongoing pain issues rather than calling for a refill of pain medications. If your doctor understands you are serious about your recovery, and you realize that your pain may not be normal, s/he is more likely to continue to help you once s/he is assured there is a need.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

04-23-2011 - 07:05 AM


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Fairfax VA 22033
703-391-1500
Lauren Streicher, M.D.
Gynecologic Specialists of Northwestern, S.C
680 N. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 117
Chicago IL 60611
(312)654-1166
Jonathan Y Song, M.D.
2455 Dean St.
Suite A
St. Charles IL 60175
(630) 513-9160
Lillian Schapiro, M.D.
275 Collier Road, Suite 250
Atlanta GA 30309
404-355-1285

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