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Muscle Splinting & Post-Operative Pain

Posted by Dr. Hugh McLean on 14 November 2019
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After you have had top surgery in Ontario, it is pretty common for a lot of patients to experience a very tight feeling. Many people say they hunch over and feel uncomfortable standing up straight because of this unpleasant sensation. Why does this happen? Well, the majority believe it is because the skin is tenser due to the surgery, but this is not necessarily the case. The real reason behind this is likely related to what is called “muscle splinting”.

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If you have not heard of this before, then it is the term used to describe the involuntary squeezing and contracting of the muscles that happen after some types of procedures. It is a natural, protective reaction that your brain transmits to the muscles near the tissue damage to become rigid and lock up. Do not worry, this is just your body’s attempt to prevent any other pain or further injury.

Ironically, this mechanism (sometimes referred to as protective muscle spasms) can cause rather a lot of pain itself, especially in your shoulders, back and shoulder blades. However, all is not lost as all of this is completely normal and there are treatments out there for. Plus, it will not last forever!

Treating Muscle Splinting After Top Surgery

Your surgeon will hand you medicine that you are required to take during your recovery period. Whatever type they prescribe will be absolutely right for your body and specific needs but, in general, these will help with the pain associated with the bruising, swelling and overall discomfort that will happen after the surgery.

In addition to this, you can use ice to soothe the swelling and bruising and ensure your head is elevated while you are in bed or laying on the sofa. After you have gone through any surgical procedure, you need to stay as comfortable and relaxed as possible — this includes not overexerting yourself too quickly afterwards — so you must make sure to do this too.

Commonly, it is not necessary to take a muscle relaxation additionally to all of this but, if it is needed in your case, then Flexeril will be prescribed to hopefully enable muscle splinting to subside.

In rarer incidences, this tension, along with the difficulty in standing up straight, can be felt over 2 to 3 months after you have undergone the surgery. If this happens to you, then you need to make sure you are doing regular stretching exercises and attending massage therapy sessions to remind your muscles that they can, in fact, relax.

Preparation to Do Before the Surgery

Before you go “under the knife” (we know this is a somewhat scary phrase but, you know what we are talking about) you should put some measures in place to help you feel as comfortable as possible during your recovery phase.

Of course, you will have your own methods that allow you to feel relaxed but, here are a few top tips:

  • Buy in your favourite comfort food
  • Buy in some appetizing meals that are packed full of nutrition
  • Make yourself a comfortable place to rest
  • Have some books to hand near your relaxation zone
  • Get your favourite movies (and possibly some you have not seen yet) and put them somewhere you can easily reach them when you feel like it
  • Grab a sketchbook and some pencils to keep you distracted
  • Have a colouring book nearby
  • Maybe put your knitting, sewing, embroidery or cross-stitch equipment near to where you are going to be relaxing
  • Make sure your journal is nearby

After the Surgery

It is important to try to keep yourself as positive and comfortable as humanly possible after the procedure, but it is perfectly natural for long periods of discomfort and pain can have a detrimental impact on your mind.

Thankfully, there are measures you can employ to help to process the surgery and the pain, like:

  • Start a regime of positive thoughts (gratitude, affirmations, etc.)
  • Going outside as soon as you can
  • Allowing only supportive people into your life so you can rest and have individuals around you that will give you the things you need

Top Surgery Ontario

Muscle splinting is a normal reaction to the stress your body has endured and while the tightness can be worrying, please do try to not panic as it is most likely due to this natural mechanism.

Whether you have top surgery in Ontario or elsewhere in the world, make sure to keep in touch with your surgeon and tell them if something feels off or excruciatingly painful. If there’s still something that’s not quite clear about the procedure, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll help you out in any way we can.

 

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