You knew that a c-section is major surgery, and you expected a robust recovery, but you might encounter some unexpected issues. One of those issues could be that your c-section incision has a burning sensation or stinging.
Of course, that leaves you wondering whether or not it’s normal to feel burning or stinging. When I first experienced it, I was worried enough to call the doctor to ask if it was normal. What if it meant my incision was opening or what if it meant I had an infection?
I had to find out, and so do you. So, let’s take a look together at this frustrating side effect.
Table of Content
- Why Does My C-Section Incision Burn?
- How Long Will My Incision Hurt After a C-Section?
- Is It Normal to Feeling a Burning Sensation After a C-Section?
- How Do You Know If Your C-Section Incision is Infected?
- How to Reduce or Prevent Incision Discomfort?
- Final Thoughts
Why Does My C-Section Incision Burn?
When I first noticed that my incision had a burning sensation, I was concerned, so I gave my OBGYN a call. She reassured me that, in most cases, burning or stinging is entirely reasonable. Only in certain circumstances would these sensations indicate an actual problem.
So, what causes a surgical incision to burn or experience discomfort? There are several reasons.
The most common reason for the burning is nerve damage. When the surgical team makes the incision, they slice through nerves, and nerves don’t always regrow. It’s a common reason that moms note experiencing c-section incision burning pain.
Nerve damage also can cause shooting pain, numbness, and sensitivity to temperature. When you experience these pains, it’s typically from the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves that are causing your issues. The discomfort from these nerves presents themselves as a burning pain and hypersensitivity. It might even feel like small electric shocks.
Scar Tissue Adhesions
Any surgery can cause adhesions, and cesarean sections aren’t an exception. Women can develop adhesions as they heal and recover from their operation, and they can attach to organs and ligaments surrounding the incision site.
Then, over time, those adhesions could cause discomfort when you move, exercise, or if you lose weight. It’s a reason why you might notice on your c-section incision burning on one side. If that one side has more adhesions, it could cause more discomfort.
Adhesions can be a significant source of discomfort. They can surround the uterus, bladder, and fallopian tubes, causing painful intercourse, frequent urination, and fertility issues. Sometimes, these issues don’t show up until a year or longer after the surgery, and they can have significant adverse effects on your body.
A New Pregnancy
When you become pregnant, your uterus quickly starts to make room for the new addition. As your uterus grows, it stretches the scar tissue, leading to a burning sensation. It’s not uncommon to notice your c-section scar burning two years later if you become pregnant!
In my experience,
This discomfort goes away after your 16-20th week of pregnancy. By then, the scar has stretched, and the trouble starts to go away. It’s easy to confuse these pains with round ligament pains that are typical during early pregnancy.
It’s easy to imagine why this can cause burning or stinging. Scar tissue is typically thick and does mobilize well. As your uterus grows, it has to force that dense tissue to stretch, and it’s not always happy to do so at first.
Although not very common, c-section scar endometriosis is a possibility, and it takes place when the uterine tissue connects to surrounding organs in your body. It can be excruciating and painful to treat, and it also makes conceive more troublesome.
Endometriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but since it’s not something that doctors diagnose frequently, it can easily be missed. It’s believed that this type of endometriosis might be more common than previously thought. Most women note having a lump that causes pain, such as burning or stinging, and that the pain continues to be persistent.
In some cases, burning or stinging could be an indicator that your incision is infected. However, if you do have an infection, that is rarely the only sign. You would have other indicators of an infection. Check the list below to make sure you don’t have any other symptoms!
How Long Will My Incision Hurt After a C-Section?
Most of the pain will decrease within two to three weeks after your surgery, but you’ll still have discomfort for eight weeks or longer. The area will be tender. My last c-section was two years ago, and if my kids accidentally press on the area too hard, it does cause discomfort.
However, women report pain for months and even a year afterward. You also might confuse numbness, which can be uncomfortable, with discomfort. It’s quite reasonable for women to experience numbness around their incision for months or even years!
While some women do have pain for months and years later, it’s important to note that it isn’t normal to do so. It can be tender if pressure is applied, but if you still have burning or stinging, then it’s typically an indication that something else is wrong.
Is It Normal to Feeling a Burning Sensation After a C-Section?
It can be normal, but if you experience these sensations for longer than eight weeks, there could be a problem at hand. Thousands of women report this same problem, so you aren’t alone.
The most common complaint is that they feel burning or stinging when they lay down or stand up. When you are freshly postpartum, this discomfort could be because you are pulling and applying pressure to the incision. The stitches pull on a tender area.
This is interesting:
Some report that they have the burning on one side, which I experienced as well. Surgeons often add what they call a “super stitch” to this area, pulling everything in that direction towards the end of the stitching. So, it can be normal to feel pulling, stinging, or discomfort. However, that feeling should subside by the time you’re eight weeks postpartum.
What does this mean for you?
It means that the burning sensation IS normal if it takes place within the first eight weeks of your healing. If you still have this sensation longer, it’s time to talk to your OBGYN.
How Do You Know If Your C-Section Incision is Infected?
A bacterial infection causes most post-surgical incision infections. Burning and stinging CAN be a sign of an infection, but it’s not the only sign. If you experience burning and no other sign of an infection, chances are you are fine, and something else is causing the discomfort.
Here are the most common signs of a surgical incision infection.
- Redness at and around the incision site
- Swelling around the incision
- Pus or discharge that is yellow or green
- Consistent pain that doesn’t go away
- A sudden fever that is higher than 100.4℉
- Painful urination
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Heavy vaginal bleeding with or without clots
How to Reduce or Prevent Incision Discomfort?
If you’re experiencing burning pain above or around c-section incision, there might be some ways to help reduce the discomfort you have.
The most common suggestion is for mothers to use abdominal binding to relieve pain and encourage healing. It’s a piece of stretchy material that goes around your midsection. Not only does it help you walk better after any major abdominal surgery, but it can help with your postoperative pain in general.
Using binding goes a long way when it comes to preventing incision discomfort. Recovery belly wraps are affordable ways to encourage better healing postpartum.
Use Ice or Heat
One of my fallbacks in any situation is icing or heating the area. If you’re still freshly healing, the area is tender. Try applying some ice or heat to help ease and relax the discomfort you have. If you have any swelling during the first week or two, then ice can do wonders to reduce it down to a reasonable level.
Try Scar Massage
You can try scar massage, which is called scar tissue mobilization. It’s not like a massage you receive at a spa, but it can help your incision feel better. Studies suggest that 90% of surgical scars can be treated and improved with massages.
When you use scar massages, you help to move around and reorganize the collagen fibers. It helps to make the skin feel and act more like normal tissue, allowing it to stretch more comfortably. Massages reduce adhesions in the connective tissue and layers.
Talk to a Pelvic Floor Therapist
Your OBGYN can help, but you will be amazed at how much an excellent pelvic floor therapist can help you in your recovery. Not only can they help mobilize your scar, but they can show you the right way to try scar massage. If more help is needed, they’ll be able to find you the proper resources as well.
If you find out that you do have endometriosis, you can seek out a medical procedure to remove the tissue that is causing the problem. Some doctors offer laparoscopic surgery, but you’ll want to speak to your doctor to find out all options.
Get a Nerve Block
If your doctor diagnoses you with nerve damage, there is little that can be done, and that’s unfortunate because it can be quite uncomfortable. Most specialists recommend that you try a nerve block that leads to temporary numbness for the affected nerve.
If you’re experiencing a burning sensation around your c-section incision, you need to know that you aren’t alone. The first step is to identify the cause of your pain, and you might need to seek out medical care for that determination.
The good news?
In most cases, your doctor can help you get the relief that you need!