Most women who have a hysterectomy experience some level of pain after the procedure. The amount of pain and how long it lasts can vary depending on how the surgery was performed, and may last from a few days to several weeks. There are several ways patients can manage their hysterectomy pain during this time. Typically, medication will be prescribed for immediate use after the operation. Other important pain management techniques include adequate rest and limited heavy activity, use of heat, and light exercise.
For the majority of patients, management of hysterectomy pain involves medication. Some women experience severe pain, especially within the first day after the operation, and may require temporary administration of narcotics. Others may require prescription-strength painkillers. In some cases, over-the-counter medication such as NSAIDs may be sufficient. In almost all cases, these drugs are only necessary for a limited period of time; some women feel much better after only a few days, and most are pain-free within two weeks.
Another technique that is often effective for managing hysterectomy pain is the application of heat. One of the simplest ways to use this method is to apply one or two heating pads to the abdomen. Heating pads can be easily kept in place while the patient is in bed recuperating. The warmth can help her relax and is soothing for pain at the surgical site.
Rest is also a critical part of minimizing hysterectomy pain. After surgery, the body needs to recover and heal from having the uterus removed, and it is important that it has adequate time to rest and recuperate. Women who have had a hysterectomy need to listen to their bodies and spend as much time off their feet as needed. It is also critical that heavy activity be limited during this time, as doing too much too soon can injure the surgical site, increasing pain and recovery time. Lifting, climbing stairs, and driving should be kept to a minimum or avoided altogether.
Though heavy activity is not recommended, light activity can be very beneficial when dealing with hysterectomy pain. Women who wish to speed their recovery may wish to get up and begin moving about within a few days after their surgery. Walking and other limited exercise can not only help the body loosen up and begin getting back to normal, but is also usually good for improving the patient's mood.