View Full Version : post-op hot or cold packs?

09-21-2009, 11:13 PM
Now that I'm weaning the pain meds down, I'm, of course, feeling more discomfort. I'm finding that my side incision is where the discomfort is. My stomach muscles also feel so tight when I stand and move...I feel like I'm hunched over. My skin is also very sensitive...a little numb still...and I hate having even clothing touch my side. All this time I've been relying on meds for pain relief and haven't really thought of applying cold or heat...maybe I've been a little afraid too. But I need another strategy to relax my muscles. Any ideas?

09-21-2009, 11:33 PM
I don't know about ice or heat but I think you are trying to come off pain meds too soon. You shouldn't even think about not taking them at this stage. They are given for a reason and they help in the healing process. Just my opinion but you are only a month from surgery and that just seems way to soon.

09-22-2009, 12:56 AM

As Mavis said, maybe it's just too early. The symptoms could also be from withdrawal which can make one hyper sensitive.

I wish I knew why some people are able to be off pain medication is two weeks, while others take 6 months to a year. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to it.

Don't beat yourself up because you're still in need of pain medication.

Hope things get better quickly.


09-22-2009, 07:11 AM
Just my $.02, but I also think less than a month post-op is pretty soon to worry about getting off pain meds. I had a posterior only surgery, and I definitely still needed them at that point.

As Linda said, some people are off med-free very quickly, and some aren't. The meds do serve a purpose, and you have to judge what works for you. Keep reminding yourself there's no valor in hurting more than necessary.

I can't speak specifically about heat or cold for the abdominal incision, but I know cold worked better for my back spasms. Early on, everything feels tight - but it's also pretty inflamed: Applying heat, sometimes, can aggravate that inflammation even more by increasing blood flow to the area. If I had to choose one or the other to start with, I'd probably try cold first because they shouldn't be much risk it'll exacerbate things.

I hope you get some relief soon!


09-22-2009, 08:16 AM
Thanks for your thoughts. I went from 1 1/2 oxycodone to 1 every four hours and that did make a big difference in how I feel. I guess I really don't know what is "normal" at this point. I see my doctor in a week. Last time I went, he didn't seem to worry about writing me another prescription.

always smilin'
09-22-2009, 12:32 PM
I use both heat and ice packs...just be careful as I noticed that with my skin numb that I need to be vigilant about how hot or cold my skin truly is. I've heard cold for sore joints/bones and heat for sore muscles. Does that help? Actually I find both help immensely!

09-22-2009, 01:02 PM
Yeah ... I blistered the $^#@ out of my back with a heating pad several times after surgery, and didn't even realize it until people started asking me what I'd been doing to myself.


It's really, REALLY easy to do when your skin's numb ...


09-22-2009, 01:35 PM
Hi Kathy

You and I had our surgeries within several days of each other. Mine was the A/P combo, and I can safely say that I still need my oxycontin and percocet. I take the oxycontin once every 12 hours and two percocet as needed every 6 hours for break-thru pain. Unfortunately, I am still getting the break-thru pain (a very deep ache) so tomorrow when I visit my internist I will discuss when to increase or cut back the narcotics. Clearly, all of us are different in terms of our pain threshold, but I'll let you know what she says.

In terms of heat or cold, I'm using ice on the bone graft site on my right hip. That is a totally different (and much more acute) pain than the deep ache I describe above.

Hope this helps.


always smilin'
09-24-2009, 06:50 PM
One other thing I do when using a hot pad/ice packs is put a hoodie on...sounds strange...but when I feel my back with my hands it still gets hot/cold depending what I use and I think the hoodie provides me some protection. Just and idea.

09-28-2009, 02:30 PM
My complaint at the beginning was swelling and a burning sensation in the low back. The doctor suggested ice, so I used a flexible gel-filled ice pack. Then once the swelling subsided, I'd alternate between ice packs for the swelling and heat for the muscles. (Alternating cold/hot therapy is popular with athletic injuries.) I bought one of those velvety packs filled with rice, flax seed and herbals available at any pharmacy that carries medical supplies. You microwave it for moist heat. And you can also freeze it for cold therapy. I'd stay away from heating pads. Like one poster mentioned, when you are numb there's a risk of blistering your skin.