When to Worry About Chronic Pain After Surgery

Oct 09, 2023
When to Worry About Chronic Pain After Surgery
What causes chronic pain after surgery, and when should you worry? Learn more about what causes ongoing pain after surgery — and when you should be concerned.

If you’ve had surgery and are still experiencing pain, you’re probably feeling disappointed, and maybe even a little worried. After all, surgery was supposed to alleviate your pain — instead, you’re still dealing with discomfort and wondering why. 

At Spine & Pain Center of San Antonio in San Antonio and Live Oak, Texas, Dr. Sergio Alvarado and our skilled team of interventional pain management specialists want you to feel your best. 

If you’re experiencing ongoing pain after surgery, it might be due to scarring or nerve damage. Find out what’s typical, and when you should seek expert care. 

Understanding chronic pain after surgery

By definition, chronic pain is any pain that lasts three months or longer. After surgery, you may feel pain near the surgical area, or pain that radiates into other body areas. Known as chronic post-surgical pain (CPSP), this relatively common problem affects many people who’ve undergone a surgical procedure. 

Whether it feels like a burning sensation or general discomfort, there are many reasons why you may continue feeling pain post-surgery. Post-surgery pain may occur due to nerve damage, scar tissue, or even a low individual pain threshold. Having a pre-existing condition like fibromyalgia or arthritis can increase the possibility of post-surgical pain, too. 

When to worry about post-surgical pain 

While you can expect some post-surgical pain and discomfort while you heal, you also expect it to gradually ease — and eventually go away — as you recover. But when pain persists after surgery, it’s important to take note; if it persists long enough, it’s imperative to take action. 

Here are some classic symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore. 

  • Pain duration: If you’re still experiencing pain three months or later post-surgery, it’s time to seek help 
  • Intensity of pain: Any pain that interferes with your daily activities requires medical attention; shooting or burning pain can hinder your quality of life
  • Limited improvement: If you’re not feeling any improvement after surgery in the timeframe you were expecting to, it’s time for an evaluation to assess your options 
  • New symptoms: Occasionally, you may feel numbness, tingling, or shooting pains in or near the surgical area that can indicate a pinched nerve or other issue 
  • Sleep disturbances: If your pain keeps you up at night, come see our team

Potential pain management treatments post-surgery 

If you’re experiencing pain three months or more after surgery, there are additional therapies we recommend. Depending on your medical history and symptoms, our team may suggest: 

The bottom line? If you’re experiencing pain, we can find a solution. At Spine & Pain Center of San Antonio, in San Antonio, and Live Oak, Texas, we evaluate your symptoms, goals, and medical history to help you restore an active, pain-free life. Call your nearest office today, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule an appointment any time.