Will I be given anesthesia?
Anesthesia is the clinical word for the pain medication that helps you deal with your pain during and after surgery. Each hospital deals with your anesthetic and pain control differently.
Many people who have joint replacement surgery have spinal anesthetic. This is similar to the freezing you get at the dentist, except this freezing goes into your back and makes you numb from the chest down to stop you from feeling pain. The doctor will make sure you are comfortable throughout the surgery, giving you medication through your IV that makes you relaxed and sleepy. If you have a spinal anesthetic, you will not be able to move your legs for up to 4 hours after surgery.
Some people receive general anesthetic. This is a combination of drugs that will make you unconscious during the surgery. Feel free to ask your doctor what kind of drugs you will be given.
In some cases, the doctor may give you a nerve block. This injection of “freezing” medication only freezes the surgical area of your body, making it feel numb and pain-free. A nerve block is usually done together with a general or spinal anesthetic.
A nerve block can also help reduce pain after your operation has finished. In some cases, a small tube is left in place to give you constant freezing medication to control your pain for more than 24 hours.
The type of anesthetic you receive will depend on the type of surgery you are having and your overall health. Talk to your surgeon and the Anesthesiologist about the type of pain medication you will be given. The Anesthesiologist is a doctor who is trained to give anesthetics and pain medicatications and monitor you throughout your surgery. The doctors can answer your questions and discuss any concerns you may have.
Here are several questions you might want to ask:
- What type of anesthetic will I be having?
- What are its potential side effects and complications?
- What can I do to prevent getting complications before and after surgery?
- If I am having a spinal anesthetic, will I hear and see what's going on in the operating room?
NOTE: You will be told not to eat or drink anything the night before surgery. For your own safety, be sure to follow the orders given by your surgeon.