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Pain Medications - Joint Replacement Surgery

Continue on a regular daily basis until needing no other pain relief- usually 6-12 weeks

Continue for 6 weeks after surgery. However if you feel like you would still benefit from further use beyond 6 weeks please consult your GP. You can continue for longer but your GP may wish to consider any cardiovascular risk factors, kidney issues or stomach upset. Generally a dose reduction is appropriate such as only taking for 4-5 days each week.

This medication is not used routinely but may be helpful for pain relief particularly at night. It may be added at a later stage during your recovery  However, side effects include drowsiness and occasionally blurred vision and constipation. The usual dose is

25-75mg at night. 

2 - 6 weeks: Usual total duration

6-12 weeks: Uncommon: needs further medical input

> 12 weeks: Rare: Important to see a pain specialist


Typically patients experience most pain during exercises and walking. In the early stages of recovery (1st 2 weeks) opioids are very useful to facilitate mobilisation and exercises. Over time the expectation is that pain will gradually subside and activities will become easier. At any stage if the activity is causing excessive pain it may be preferable to modify the activity rather than simply increasing the amount of opioid taken.

Opioid medications are very useful in preventing and treating severe pain in the early recovery phase after surgery. However prolonged use can cause problems for some patients. The usual side effects are well recognised and understood. These include drowsiness, constipation, itch, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth and nausea. The less common side effects are potentially more serious and less well understood. These include altering the perception of pain so that over time the body becomes more sensitised to pain and less sensitive to the pain relief effects of the medication. This can lead to increased dosing requirements and potential dependency issues. Opioids can also suppress the immune system and increase the potential risk of joint infections.

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