nurse comforting patient for surgery

Will surgery hurt?

That is a question that even I have wondered more than once.  Pain is incredibly interesting; there is more to pain perception than we know.

The complex nature of pain perception never ceases to amaze me. But, you and I know everything we need to know about pain; we don’t like it and we don’t want it.

However, it’s tough when temporary pain is a part of solving a bigger problem. Not one person I have operated on for colon cancer wanted the surgical pain, but no one wanted to keep the cancer, either. So, how do we make the temporary discomfort associated with surgery as little as possible, while still getting the benefit we expect from surgery?

There are consequences to experiencing pain other than the “ouch” factor. Having pain can result in other things occurring to your body. Pain can cause your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to go up. It can change the way your blood flows to different organs. Pain can also cause your body to send chemicals, like cortisol and epinephrine, to move around your insides. Pain can even cause different cell types to push into your blood stream. Some of the things that happen to your body when you experience pain can result in problems like poor wound healing, blood clots in the legs and pneumonia when the pain keeps you from moving around enough after an operation. It is in all of our best interest to reduce pain after surgery so that we can avoid trouble.

Different methods of pain control come with different kinds of risks. Even aspirin used to excess can cause stomach ulcers. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, can cause liver problems if taken incorrectly. And, opiate addiction can come from codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.

At HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, we do some unique things to limit the discomfort. The first is what you experience even before you walk in the door. Surgery can be frightening and that fear can make it easier to feel pain. Our office staff works to make scheduling surgery a clear, orderly and painless process. They will walk you through the process as many times and in as many ways as you need so you are comfortable with where to go and when to get here.

We are conveniently located on Main Street in Oconto Falls. When you get to the hospital there are people just a few steps from every entrance that will help you get to where you need to be.

At registration, you can find  When you get into the surgery area you will meet our surgery staff: a dedicated group of professionals who could work at any hospital anywhere, yet they choose to drive in from Coleman, Pound, Peshtigo and right here in town to take care of their neighbors and friends. They know how to put you at ease and get you settled in.

When it comes to actual pain control, the anesthesia staff is where the rubber meets the road. As important as it is to be relaxed and comfortable going into the operating room, our anesthesia staff bring it all home. They are remarkable professionals who have years of training and experience from places like the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. Their work starts when they talk to you about how we are going to manage your pain in the operating room and after surgery. This is the only group of anesthesia providers I have ever known who not only manage pain in the operating room, but also in the recovery room and on the nursing floor after surgery. Anesthesia can do wonderful things with nerve blocks, pain catheters, epidural injections and combinations of medications that are unique to their world of anesthesia. Not only are they well trained and talented, they care.

If you need to stay overnight, the nurses and certified nurse assistants on the nursing floor make sure that you are safe, your pain is controlled and that you are cared for.

I do my best, too, as a surgeon to minimize the pain of surgery. I have spent years learning minimally-invasive techniques and I have a commitment to handling tissue gently to minimize the trauma.

In short, pain is a part of the healing process after surgery. But at HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital we do our best – from start to finish – to understand your pain and individualize your treatment so that you feel better faster.

Contact Richard McNutt, MD, General Surgeon at (920) 965-7411