The hernia mesh is a medical device made of polypropylene plastic that helps provide support for damaged or weak tissue.
Each year, more than 100,000 hernia mesh medical devices are used for hernia repair surgery in the United States alone.
And just like any other surgeries, an amount of pain is expected following hernia repair surgery with the use of hernia mesh.
In some cases, however, people suffer from chronic pain which affects their daily activities to a certain degree and can last anywhere between several months and even years after a hernia mesh surgery.
This, along with the numerous adverse reactions and injuries suffered by people who have undergone surgeries using surgical mesh, are just some of the concerns filed in the complaints under the hernia mesh lawsuit.
In this article, you will learn more about what causes this post-hernia repair pain, as well as its symptoms and some options to help relieve your pain.
All About Hernia Repair
Hernias occur when an internal organ or other body part pushes through a weak place in the surrounding tissue or muscle wall that holds it in place.
Causes of hernia range from an increased pressure in the abdomen to weak muscles such as lifting heavy objects, obesity, diarrhea, constipation, and constant coughing or sneezing.
Most hernias occur within the chest, hips, and abdominal cavity.
One common and effective way to treat hernia is through a major surgery called hernia repair.
Hernia repairs are done to correct a hernia by returning the organ to its proper place and fixing the weakened area of muscle or tissue.
Hernias come in various types depending on the affected body part, but the most common types of hernias include the following:
An inguinal hernia is possibly the most common type of hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs when a portion of the bowel bulges out through the inguinal canal, which is a passage through the muscles of the abdominal wall, and into the groin.
During an inguinal hernia repair, the surgeon pushes the bulging tissues back into place and strengthens the part of the abdominal wall which contains the defect.
Umbilical hernias can be seen or felt near or at your belly button. this type of hernia develops when a part of the intestine bulges out through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.
During an umbilical hernia repair, the surgeon makes a cut above the belly button to push the herniated tissue back to the abdominal cavity, then strengthens the weak spot in the abdominal wall by stitching the muscle layers together.
Hiatal hernias occur when the upper part of your stomach bulges through an opening in your diaphragm called the hiatus.
A hiatal hernia repair may involve pulling the stomach back into your abdomen and making the opening in your diaphragm smaller.
Hernia bulges can grow as huge as a basketball. A change in one’s quality of life, along with personal insecurities, and chronic pain are just some of the reasons why people opt for a hernia repair surgery.
And although hernia repairs are considered to be an effective way of treating hernias, they also come with significant risks and potential complications.
Hernia Mesh Complications
Hernia mesh complications include chronic pain and discomfort, mesh adhesion, bowel obstruction or perforation, hernia recurrence, infection, and mesh migration.
Patients have complained of mesh pain, mesh failure, and hernia recurrence following their surgery.
Unfortunately, for some patients, these complications do not only occur immediately after a hernia mesh surgery, but even years later after the procedure.
Aside from severe pain, these hernia mesh complications may also trigger your body to reject the mesh.
They can be hard to identify, but here are the most common hernia mesh complications:
- Bowel obstruction or perforation
- Mesh Rejection
- Mesh Migration
- Hernia recurrence
- Chronic pain
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adhesion can be described as a “scar-like tissue that sticks tissues together.”
Often times, patients can only recognize mesh adhesion through chronic, severe pain.
Hernia mesh adhesion can also lead to life-threatening bowel obstruction or perforation.
To prevent this complication from further harming patients, manufacturers have started putting coatings into medical devices like the the hernia mesh.
However, a 2009 study in the British Journal of Surgery found that aside from the fact that the body absorbs these coatings, they are also only effective in reducing adhesions for up to one week.
A hernia mesh can also cause bowel obstruction.
One of the most common mesh complications, bowel obstruction is a blockage in the small or the large intestine. If the medical device migrates or moves it can create obstructions.
Bowel obstruction is a potentially dangerous medical condition which warrants immediate treatment.
Hernia Recurrence after Hernia Surgery
Another complication that patients tend to complain about is their hernias coming back.
According to a study, hernia recurrence is less likely to happen when surgical mesh is used for hernia repair surgery, but it can still happen.
Minor infections that occur around the surgical site on the skin can easily be treated with antibiotics.
However, in cases of deep and severe infections around the hernia mesh, patients may need an additional surgery to remove the mesh.
Symptoms of severe infection like fever, inflammation, and other flu-like symptoms can also occur only years after hernia mesh surgery.
Migration happens when the hernia mesh detaches after surgery.
It can potentially migrate through the abdomen, leading to adhesions, fistulas, and bowel obstruction or perforation.
Even though detachment is more likely to happen in laparoscopic or minimally invasive hernia repair surgery techniques, it can still result in chronic pain.
Chronic Pain and Discomfort
One sign of hernia mesh complications that patients often recognize is chronic pain and discomfort.
Depending on the kind of hernia and the surgical site, pain may occur near the groin, testicle, leg, or abdomen.
At times, some patients only feel pain and discomfort as one of the side effects.
However, this could also lead to long-term, chronic pain that may last from three to six months up to several years.
Pain after Hernia Repair Surgery
Pain is one of the most common complications following hernia repair with the use of mesh.
But just like other surgeries, feeling a considerable amount of pain is normal. However, it should be gone by the time the incision and your tissues have completely healed.
However, in some cases, the mesh can cause pain that lasts for three to six months after surgery.
Patients can even suffer from long-term, chronic pain that may last for several years.
Usually, pain relief medications can be used to treat hernia mesh pain. In severe cases, however, doctors may recommend an additional surgery for mesh removal.
Symptoms of Chronic Hernia Mesh Pain
Mesh pain symptoms can be different for each person.
It can also depend on the site of surgery, type of mesh, type of surgery, and any preexisting pain or medical conditions the patient may already have.
Symptoms of hernia mesh pain can include:
- Swelling or inflammation
- Burning sensation around the site of surgery
- Pain during sex
- Pain when sitting, walking, or sleeping
- Throbbing pain
- Pain in the testicles
If the pain you feel after hernia mesh surgery starts to get in the way of your daily activities, or if it remains severe even after six months have passed, you may be suffering from chronic hernia mesh pain.
Patients who are suffering from pain beyond three months should speak to their doctors or surgeons about possible treatment options.
Causes of Pain after Hernia Mesh Surgery
Common causes of abdominal pain following surgery using mesh are injuries in the muscles, skin, and nerves.
The duration of the surgery may make the pain more intense, but this may also lessen as your body heals.
Patients, however, should always tell their health care providers their pain levels.
On the other hand, according to experts, mesh pain is not mainly because of the procedure, but more about what the hernia mesh implants are made of.
Some experts even say that the main cause of mesh pain is the defective medical tool itself, as polypropylene mesh has a tendency to erode into adjacent tissues, as proven by the recently filed complaints in the hernia mesh lawsuits.
Not only that, but the manufacturers allegedly downplayed the risks of the components of the device as well.
Treating Mesh Pain
Treatment options for chronic mesh pain can either be oral medications or surgery.
Most doctors recommend observing patients at first and managing their pain with oral pain relievers.
However, if medications prove to be unsuccessful, patients may consider having a surgery.
And depending on the site and cause of the pain, doctors may suggest for patients to undergo mesh removal, a neurectomy to remove a part or all of the nerve, or both.
Patients who will opt for mesh removal must make sure that their surgeon is skilled and experienced, so as to avoid further complications and additional surgery.