Although more hernia surgeries are performed each year on men, it seems a higher percentage of women suffer the risk of significant chronic pain. Many physicians and surgery centers are studying inguinal hernia surgery in females and lowering the risk of chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Everyone will have some pain after hernia surgery, it’s part of the healing process, and can be relieved by medications. However, pain that lasts for 6 months or longer is considered chronic. Chronic pain is not normal, and you should never ignore it.
Pain after hernia surgery can occur from an inflammation of the mesh, sensory nerve entrapment in scar tissue, and nerve damage or injury.
Chronic pain after hernia surgery can feel like a stabbing, burning sensation that makes sleep difficult. It can hurt while walking or sitting. The chronic pain may radiate to other areas, and feel like you have a foreign body. It may be difficult to have sexual intercourse, or you may be uncomfortable wearing a belt or underwear. This type of chronic pain almost always results in psychological uneasiness and anxiety.
Common Risk Factors For Chronic Pain After Hernia Surgery
It seems that being a female is one the biggest risk factors for developing chronic pain after inguinal hernia surgery.
Some of the other risk factors include the following:
- Being younger
- A less than optimistic attitude prior to surgery
- Previous hernia surgery
- Open repair technique
- Heavy weight mesh
Why Women Are More Prone To Chronic Pain After Inguinal Hernia Surgery
Chronic pain rates are higher with anterior repairs. Tissue is sutured around the hernia hole to tighten the whole area and prevent a bulge from forming. Mesh is then used over the site.
There are three nerves near this area and sometimes they can be inadvertently stitched into the repair or they are irritated by the mesh.
No one knows why yet, but this seems to affect women more than men. Doctors try to minimize this effect by placing the mesh to the posterior where nerves are better protected.
When doing a repair near the 3 nerves, doctors try to find the nerves, move them, or remove them completely to lessen the risk of getting caught up in a stitch.
By making this change, doctors are tailoring each hernia repair approach to the particular patient’s needs whether it is a man or woman. Researchers continue to study the problem.