The Questions Patients Most Often Ask – Is it Going to Hurt?

Orthopaedic & Spine Center

 Boyd W. Haynes III, MD

As an Orthopaedic Physician, I am asked a lot of questions everyday by patients. A lot!  That is a good thing, because I have the answers they need to help them make the best decision about their treatment.  There is a question that I am asked every day, multiple times a day, and here are my answers:

  1. Q: Is it going to hurt?  (This is usually asked when I tell someone that they need an injection or a surgery).

A:  If any of you love getting injections, please raise your hand!  Most injections sting at least a little.  In larger joints or muscles, they aren’t as painful and the sting only lasts a second or two.  In smaller joints and in the hands and feet, injections tend to be more painful, because I am trying to put medication into a small space and there is more pressure as the medication is added.  Sometimes the medication itself stings.

We do everything we can to minimize the pain of an injection.  We use cooling spray that temporarily “freezes” the injection site, so your brain doesn’t notice the injection that much. Our steroid injections also have a bit of numbing medication mixed in which helps. We use ultrasound to help us pinpoint the location of the painful problem, so that when you get a shot, you get it in exactly the right spot.

We sometimes have to give numbing injections first before we do in-office procedures, like setting broken bones or suturing.  I usually tell patients that the injection will be the worst part.  They won’t soon feel anything when the anesthetic takes effect, and that is a good thing!

A:  All surgeries will result in some level of discomfort.  The rule tends to be – the larger and more complex the surgery, the more painful recovery tends to be.  Smaller procedures don’t tend to cause as much post-surgical pain and recovery is shorter.  Again, I will do everything I can to help alleviate the pain for my patients after surgery, with medications, Physical Therapy, icing, etc.  Unfortunately, having some pain after surgery is just part of the territory!