After Your Operation

Pain Control After Surgery

Most patients have little pain after parathyroid surgery

Although your incision will hurt when you wake from anesthesia, it gets better quickly. It is normal to have some soreness for a few days, but it hurts much less than you would expect. By the time most people leave the hospital after their parathyroid operation (about 1 hour, 45 minutes after the operation), they still have a little bit of pain, but it is alleviated with over-the-counter pain pills.

Over-the-counter pain pills

For postoperative pain, we use over-the-counter medications that you would normally take for pain (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, etc). Ibuprofen (which is the generic name for Motrin and Advil) often works better than acetaminophen (generic name for Tylenol), but they both work better together. You can alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Bring your preferred pain medication with you when you come. It can hurt quite a bit in the first hour, but then it gets much better very quickly. There is more about this in the yellow “Day Of Surgery” section of the app.

Most people can take 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours for the first day. Note that this is four of the 200 mg tablets that are typically sold over the counter (check your bottle). Your throat may be sore for a couple of days…ice cream will make it feel better!

No narcotics needed

We prefer not to use prescription pain medications (narcotics) after parathyroid surgery for two reasons. First, it is almost never necessary. And second, it can cause some pretty bad side effects, like nausea and vomiting (which can be very unpleasant after a neck operation) and constipation. You will have a sore throat, but it will usually last only a few days. Remember that it was a small, sterile operation. Bring your Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, or whatever you prefer with you. If you normally take narcotics for other pain, you should keep taking that as you normally would.

“I can’t take ibuprofen”

Patients with severe kidney disease should avoid ibuprofen. If you have significantly decreased renal function, you should take acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. Patients with mild renal disease may be able to take a dose or two of ibuprofen after surgery, but generally it is better to avoid NSAIDs (which includes ibuprofen and Aleve) and stick with Tylenol.