The more you understand how to use your medications after surgery, the easier your recovery will be. Common questions after surgery are about medication usage, went to take, how much to take, which to take. This short tutorial will hopefully review better prepared and lead you into a quicker recovery.



This is a group of medications that helps reduce inflammation and pain. Patients on a strong blood thinner, this may not be an option. You should ask your doctor about this. These medications are not addictive and are usually taken on a schedule for at least the first few days after a procedure. I encourage my patients to make a chart and remember exactly what time the next dose should be taken. Ibuprofen, Aleve, Motrin, Naprosyn, Mobic, Advil–these are all anti-inflammatories. They might upset your stomach and if they do should be stopped right away. These can be taken along with a narcotic medication.


Often called a pain pill, these are strong medications that help reduce pain. They do nothing for inflammation and swelling. These medicines work in the nervous system not at the site of the procedure. These require a hand written prescription and cannot be phoned in. Typically, these are used only as needed. They can be taken in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory as they work in a completely different way. These often have side effects of constipation and drowsiness. While highly addictive, taking a narcotic for the right reason (your pain) does not usually lead to any addiction. Many patients go through withdrawals if they stop these pills suddenly after surgery. This can include flulike symptoms. Most narcotics contain a mixture which includes Tylenol. It is the tylenol, or acetaminophen, that can be toxic to deliver and as a result typically no more than two pills a should ever be taken at any one time no sooner than 4 to 6 hours apart. Taking three, four or even five pain pills to reduce pain is not the answer as this can make you extremely sick and severely damaged your liver.

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Sometimes, a long acting narcotic is also helpful. This is typically taken two or three times a scheduled dose. This reduces the need for the short acting narcotic. This might be helpful for a week or so after surgery in some cases. Again, as with all of this, ask your doctor to see what is right for you.


For me, aspirin is a medication that helps reduce the risk of blood clots, and is not recommended for pain control. Aspirin, in low doses, inhibits the function of your platelets which helps decrease your ability to clot blood. Most surgeries have some risk of developing a blood clot. While not well understood, it is recognized and aspirin represents a first line agent to help reduce the risk of clots. Typically, an 81 mg doses adequate. Never taken medication like this without speaking with your doctor about it first. Patients on much stronger blood thinners should avoid aspirin and all anti-inflammatories.

If you have more questions about medications after surgery, please contact me through Ask Dr. hacker or call my office to speak to me directly.