I will never forget the pain I felt after my first c-section. I remember clearly thinking I never wanted to do this again (and that soon proved to be a never-say-never thing for me). On the plus side, though, while I was still stuck in the hospital bed, my husband was tasked with changing our eldestâs diapers.
That first diaper with the meconium in it was all his. But my husband being my husband, had to make a giant ordeal about the whole thing. âAughhhhh!â he shrieked at the discovery of the first poop our eldest would ever make. âOh, my Lord! Oh! P.U.! Oh, what a stink! Gahhhh!â On and on this went, and with his animated gestures and monologue, I couldnât stop myself from laughing.
Oh, the pain! It was so bad, but I couldnât stop laughing at him. I laughed so hard and loud that I thought Iâd split my incision back open. The doctor checked and assured me everything was sewn up tight and gave me some more pain meds so I could get some sleep.
The pain after my c-section lasted about a full month, with it getting better and better each day. It was the same after my second c-section too.
But what if, years later, you still feel abdominal pain years after your c-section?
For starters, if youâve been to your checkups and regular visits with your general practitioner throughout the years, hopefully, youâve mentioned any abdominal pains. Sometimes, it could be digestive issues or premenstrual cramps.
Lord knows my cramps can throw me off some months. Iâll think Iâve got a stomachache and then Iâll feel the tell-tale pangs and know my period is about to show up. My monthly food cravings during my cycle are also my indicator.
If you think your abdominal pain has to do with your c-section, you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as possible. You shouldnât be feeling pain years after your c-section.
Chronic abdominal pain is much more likely for those of us who have had c-sections (as well as any other surgery in that region like the removal of your appendix for example). It can continuously happen, after eating, while exercising, or when youâve been sitting or lying down for long periods.
If this sounds like you, you could have abdominal adhesions. These are bands of internal scar tissues that have developed where your incision was. Deep inside, these scars bond deeply inside of us, tethering the different layers of your body tissues together where they would otherwise be mobile for normal movement.
Adhesions can affect your muscle movement and digestive processes, not to mention other bodily functions.
How Can You Tell if you have Scar Adhesions?
The only way to know for sure if you have scar adhesions is to get checked out by your doctor. Though the following signs are a pretty good indicator that something isnât right:
- You have pain at the location of your former c-section incision and the surrounding area
- Thereâs puckering or dimpling along the scar from your surgery
- Youâve had an MRI or x-ray review, but nothing shows up to explain the pain
According to an article written by Dr. Andrew Beardslee, PT, DPT, MSCS, a study conducted back in the 1990s revealed that 35% of pelvic surgeries or open abdominal surgeries in the U.S. required patients to return more than two times to treat post-surgical adhesions in the ten years following their first surgery.
Yikes, right? Surgery is often the most common treatment to rectify adhesions, but this can create a vicious cycle, which is why some people choose physical therapy instead. Weâll discuss those both in a moment.
Hey, donât panic, ok? Itâs not like it was 95%, plus this was in the 1990s, and things have improved since then. But as good as the surgeon might be, there are risks for developing that scar tissue.
So now, what do you do if itâs been a full year, 2 years, 3 years, or even more than that after your last c-section and you feel abdominal pain at the site of your incision? Youâll have to talk to your doctor to rule out the possibility that itâs anything else. Youâll also have to decide which treatment is best for you.
If itâs as painful as it was when you first got stitched back up, what are you waiting for? No one should have to suffer like that! Go get that taken care of! Here are some treatment options you can talk through with your doctor.
- Removal surgeries
As mentioned above, you can have surgery to remove the scar tissue. The only downside there is that it might only temporarily relieve the problem while leaving your prone to developing another adhesion. Itâs best to find out all the risks for your particular situation. Also, if itâs been around a year after your c-section and youâre still in pain, you may want to wait just a little longer because sometimes scar tissue issues resolve themselves.
- Adhesion barriers
Havenât had your c-section yet but are currently panicking from the thought of adhesions? Fear not! This preventative measure might just be the thing for you. These have been shown to be helpful for c-sections as well as hysterectomies. It might be a good idea to ask your doctor about them.
- Compression treatments
Compression might be another option for you to reduce inflammation and pain. Compression wraps are easy to find at your local supermarket or drugstore if your doctor agrees with it. It will bring relief from the pain and can help minimize the scar tissue.
- Visit a massage therapist
Letâs face itâ¦every mom can do with a massage! But a deep tissue massage or myofascial release can really help with reducing inflammation and working things through.
Make sure you choose a massage therapist that has experience working with abdominal pain from c-sections. A great way to be sure is to ask your doctor for a reference.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy may be the right choice if youâre having difficulty with mobility due to your abdominal pain at your c-section incision site. It can help get you back to feeling like you again.
Sometimes simply stretching and performing small exercises can make all the difference in the recovery at our point of incision. While this is often prescribed for those with joint pain and injuries, it can help reduce the pain with internal scar tissues as well.
Final Thoughts on Abdominal Pain Long After Your C-Section
Itâs definitely not normal for you to feel pain in your abdominal area a year or more after your c-section. Ideally, if you still feel as sore as you did right after the drugs wore off post-surgery at your 6-week postpartum checkup, SPEAK UP!
Itâs much better to get to the root of the problem immediately rather than letting it fester. But what if you feel fine at your 6-week checkup and years later, this pain pops up? Sometimes, that can happen, though itâs not extremely common.
The bottom line is thisâ¦if you notice any of the symptoms I mentioned above, even if theyâre happening a good few years after youâve been stitched back up, get it checked out. Youâll be able to tackle the problem and get back to a pain-free existence, something you deserve!