A recent study presented during the annual conference of the American Society of Anesthesiologists revealed people were more afraid of surgery and pain than we would expect. Patients usually overestimate the amount of postoperative pain they would experience, which leads to a significant increase in their anxiety levels. So much anxiety is not necessary, and might have many unpleasant effects.
People are afraid of postoperative pain
Most of the time, after surgeries which require regional anesthesia, patients get to experience postoperative pain. The lead anesthesiologist finds a cluster of nerves which controls the body area that needs to be numbed, and administers an injection. These areas usually are the spine, or some peripheral nerve endings.
However, people almost always think they are going to experience more postoperative pain than they actually are, leading to a lot of unhealthy anxiety. This usually happens because they usually remain awake during the surgery, even if they do not feel the surgeons performing the operation. Also, they do not understand how procedures work, or how much pain they should expect.
Patients expect a lot more pain after surgery than they actually experience
For the study, researchers interviewed 223 people with an average age of 61. Most of them had regional anesthesia, and a high percentage of these people remained aware during the surgery. However, there still remain 127 people who underwent only general anesthesia.
Before the operation, they had to rate the pain they would have expected to experience on a scale of 0 to 10. Then, they assessed the actual pain they felt one hour after the surgery was done, and one day after that. Their average assessment for the hour after surgery was 4.66, while the real rating was 2.56. Also, for the next day, the rates were 5.45 and a real rating of 4.30.
Medical technology is now advanced enough to prevent much of the postoperative pain patients expect to experience. Therefore, researchers urge medical professionals to properly inform their patients before surgery, and tell them the benefits of regional anesthesia and its pain alleviation. This way, they can avoid feeling too anxious and the risk of unpleasant complications.
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