Groin Pain After Surgery

If you are having groin pain 6 months after a surgery—hernia repair, vasectomy, C-section—we may have the answer for you. We know the intense symptoms are affecting your life—patients tell us exactly how they feel, and it isn’t pleasant. There is no reason, though, for you to still be suffering. As you will see, you can actually do something about this other than take an endless supply of pain pills (if they even work at all)!

Dr. Eric H. Williams has been able to help numerous patients find relief from severe pain after hernia surgery, and it’s certainly possible he will be able to help you as well. If this is something you are experiencing, come see Dr. Williams for a consultation at his Baltimore, MD office.

Groin Pain Following Hernia Surgery (and Other Procedures) Groin pain

You might not be aware of this, but depending on what medical literature you read, there are reports that hernia repair surgeries have a 3% - 30% chance of chronic (over 6 months), disabling pain. There have been changes in the ways the surgical community performs these repairs, but one thing remains the same – no matter how the hernia is repaired, there are always going to be some patients who will suffer disabling pain after this surgery.

The various reasons for this disabling pain include the fact a nerve could occasionally be trapped by a suture that is placed around or through the nerve accidentally. More commonly, the nerves in the groin (the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves) may become entrapped in the mesh material commonly used now to repair the hernia and strengthen the abdominal wall.  

When this mesh heals in place, it creates tissue inflammation and scar tissue that can draw a nerve up into the mesh, thereby pulling on it and causing pain. The mesh does a great job creating strength to the abdominal wall, but it sometimes can cause a problem as well. We have generally traded off trying to lower the rate of hernia recurrence by using the mesh for making little headway in improving chronic post-herniorrhaphy pain. 

Please understand this is not a statement to encourage patients to avoid getting their hernia repaired. This should be a decision weighed carefully between surgeon and patient, and most patients end up very happy and with less pain after surgery. Our attempt here is to make you aware that if you do have severe pain 6 months after hernia repair – you are NOT alone and there is hope to eliminate your pain.

If you are reading this page, and you’ve already had your hernia surgery, there’s a good chance that you are having difficulty with sitting, turning, and sexual intimacy. It could be painful to wear belts or underwear with elastic banding. Simply touching your skin, even lightly, hurts. Perhaps you are in such pain it feels as though you have an “elephant standing on [your] testicle,” “a blowtorch on [your] scrotum,” or “barbed wire around [your] lower abdomen” (a few colorful, direct quotes from patients).

When you exhibit agonizing symptoms like those, life is not fun. It can affect your work, personal, and love life in profoundly negative ways. As we said, though, there is hope for you. One of the most successful procedures Dr. Williams performs is used for resolving intense groin pain after hernia repair.

In addition to hernia repair, the same symptoms can occur after a vasectomy, tummy tuck, or a Cesarean section (C-section). The root cause in all of these cases could be a nerve damaged during your procedure. If this is the case, contact our office to request a consultation with Dr. Williams, and he will evaluate your condition by reviewing your appropriate records and medical history, performing a physical exam, and likely recommending a nerve block. If your situation is appropriate, and if the nerve block works temporarily, there is an excellent chance that Dr. Williams will be able to dramatically improve your pain and symptoms.

It is important to note that in all of these instances, there was a surgical procedure before the severe pain had started. If you have no idea why your groin hurts, or you have genital pain, you should start by consulting with your primary care physician, a urologist, or OB/GYN.

Treating Your Post-Hernia Repair Surgery Pain

There are many instances where your best bet for optimal pain relief is through a coordinated effort of doctors and medical personnel. A prime example of this can be seen when we discuss the measures needed to help you find relief from the pain you’ve been experiencing since your hernia repair, vasectomy, tummy tuck, or C-section.

If it’s been less than 6 months after the procedure, you should start with discussing this with your previous surgeon, and starting with conservative treatment options like physical therapy, steroid treatment, and medical pain management professionals. You may be able to find the relief you need in these avenues. Once it’s been longer than 6 months, you may be a candidate for surgery and should give our office a call for an appropriate work up.

In the event Dr. Williams and you both agree surgery is a reasonable course of treatment for you, you can expect an outpatient procedure that takes about one to two hours for each side. We will use general anesthesia or deep sedation. In most cases, Dr. Williams is able to reuse the original incision in the groin, although it may need to be extended in some circumstances. Then the appropriate nerves are removed—usually including a combination of the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves—in order to turn off the pain. 

It is important to know that the groin and affected areas will be numb permanently after surgery. A patient has to be willing to trade terrible pain for appropriate numbness. This numbness will shrink with time. Frequently, the patient does not have as much numbness as they would expect. This can be attributed to the fact that the nerves that provide sensation are already injured – hence the reason why the patient has pain in the first place. With that being said – the patient must have the mindset that they would prefer “blissful numbness” to “terrible pain.” Incidentally, the nerve blocks performed in the clinic prior to surgery can help the patient and doctor determine the area that can be expected to be numb after surgery. 

A common concern for patients is how all of this will affect sexual arousal sensations. We are happy to let you know there is no need for concern. The penis and clitoris get their sensations from a completely different nerve that will not be affected by the procedure. Further, since Dr. Williams will be taking away the intense pain you’ve been experiencing, physical intimacy will be even better than it has been.

After a typical operation, you will be allowed to go home. You will want to use an ice pack on the incision for several days, but you should be able to walk and sit as you normally would. You should be able to slowly increase your activities after a few days. Typically, the operation is easier to recover from than the original hernia repair. Most patients notice a difference in their pain levels very quickly. For other patients, it may take more time as the angry nerves settle down. 

Of course, there are risks associated with any surgery, including bleeding, infection, a build-up of fluid (seroma), and anesthesia concerns. Complications more applicable to surgeries for groin pain include:

  • Unpredictability in the healing process, including scar formation
  • Need for a second procedure to remove certain nerves (if not removed during first surgery)
  • Unfortunately, there are always a few patients who do not see the relief we had both hoped for, but we try our best to determine this before surgery by determining the response with the nerve blocks. If the nerve blocks don’t work, the surgery typically will not be helpful and we do not recommend it.

Get the Help You Need Now!

Now that you understand why you’re experiencing intense pain after hernia surgery and what you can do about it, it’s time to take action! Become one of the many patients who have found the relief they were seeking here at our Baltimore, MD office. Call us today at (410) 337-5400.