We're actually on the verge of it right now, with certain kinds of operations. Like hernia repair, total hip and knee replacement, shoulder surgery, and removal of tumors from the legs and arms.
According to CNN, interest in controlling post-operative pain has exploded in the past 5 years. Partly to make it easier for the patients, and partly to cut health care costs. Here are some of the new techniques that make surgery less painful:

  • First, there's something called "keyhole" surgery. Instead of making one long incision, surgeons make several tiny holes, just big enough for tiny instruments, cameras, and replacement parts. And the fewer cuts they make during surgery, the less post-operative pain there is. And the faster you get better.
  • Also, when you have major surgery, it can be just as hard to recover from the anesthetic as it is from the surgery itself. And general anesthetic can be really risky. So, surgeons have starting using a regional nerve block. It's kind of like a dentist using Novocaine to deaden a small area in your mouth. Nerve blocks can be used after surgery, too, to cut down on the pain, lower the amount of strong pain medication you need to take, and help you heal faster.

So, next time you're faced with elective surgery, ask your doctor if keyhole surgery and nerve blocks will work for you.