Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Management

Inpatient Surgical Pain Management

For patients who undergo surgery at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, pain management is an important part of the healing process. Our pain team includes physicians, advanced practice providers (nurse practitioners) and nurses who help ensure you are as comfortable as possible with minimal pain.

For post-surgical pain, we focus on identifying patients prior to surgery that may have pain that is difficult to manage postoperatively. This may include acute postoperative pain, acute pain related to trauma, acute chronic pain or chronic pain patients that are admitted to the hospital for conditions not related to their pain diagnosis.

Effective pain management has been shown to help patients heal more quickly and comfortably following a surgery. With less pain, you are more likely to be able to get out of bed, move with ease and do recommended breathing exercises. These simple steps can speed recovery, prevent lung problems, decrease the chance of a blood clot and shorten the overall length of time with pain.

The Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) serves inpatients following surgery to help manage their pain and encourage healing. The inpatient pain service also serves as a liaison to transition patients from the inpatient setting to the outpatient pain locations.

What Types of Pain Services are Available?

On the day of surgery and during recovery, pain management may involve one of the following methods:

  • Continuous epidural analgesia, which are numbing and pain medicines given continuously through a small tube, usually in the middle of the back
  • Continuous peripheral nerve block, which are numbing medications administered continuously through a small tube using a portable pump
  • IV pain medicines, which are fast-acting medications administered through an intravenous drip. These can act as an effective backup for breakthrough pain
  • Pain pills, which are usually stronger and longer lasting than IV pain medicines
  • PCA pump, which is a device that allows a patient to self-administer IV pain medication by pushing a button. This approach is typically used for patients who did not receive general anesthesia
  • Peripheral nerve block, which are numbing medications given before surgery that last for many hours after surgery

The pain team works with each patient and surgeon to determine which pain management technique will work best. If you experience any side effects, such as nausea or itching, it is important to tell the inpatient pain service physicians, advanced practice providers or nurse so they can decide if a different technique may be more effective.

Learn more about what to expect before, during and after surgery.