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Abdominal Pain Three Months After Surgery

Posts: 120
Joined: Oct 2013

I had a small bowel resection at the end of August, and while the recovery was slow and not without pain, I can say I've been feeling pretty good from the surgery itself for the past few weeks.  Until Thursday night.  I was woken with abdominal pain that continues today (Sunday).  I don't know how to describe it other than it's the same type of pain I had during recovery from the surgery and is located behind the main surgical incision in the center of my abdomen.  I keep hoping it's somehow just a muscle (though I haven't done anything I know would have pulled any), but it's now Sunday and it still hurts just as much.  It's also sensitive to the touch.  I don't have a fever, nausea, vomiting, redness at the incision, or other alarming symptoms, but I am concerned.  Is there anything that could be wrong at the surgical site this far out from surgery?  I'm not really clear on how the resection heals to know if this is problematic.  

I have considered going to the ER and getting checked out, but I don't know if it's safe for me to have another CT or what will transpire.  It's scary being in pain suddenly this far out from surgery.  Does anyone have any knowledge or experience to impart here?

annalexandria's picture
Posts: 2361
Joined: Oct 2011

if not today, then at least tomorrow, when your doctor's office is open.  I have read that adhesions (scarring) can develop at any time, even months after surgery, and they can be painful.  There may be other causes too.  I always hesitate to post my own experience, as I've had a lot of worse case scenario moments, but when I developed pain several months after surgery, it was due to tumor growth.  I really hope this is something else in your case (and it probably is), but I would want to get it checked out with a scan.  I don't think there would be any reason not to have a CT scan at this point, or better yet, a PET if it's available.

Good luck, and keep us posted~AA

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 1757
Joined: Jan 2013

I would get to the Doctor's today or tomorrow. 

I know that scar tissue can form and cause pain, but other than that I've no idea. 

Still, it isn't normal to be in pain, so a Doctor's visit is definitely a must. 

Is your surgeon close? If so, I'd call him on the morrow if you don't decide on an ER trip today. 

Posts: 732
Joined: Aug 2013

Maybe you can have his service ask him to give you a call. He/she may tell you to go to the ER or to wait until tomorrow, but I wouldn't wait. Always play on the side of caution.


Posts: 120
Joined: Oct 2013

My surgeon fit me in after my chemo yesterday. He said it would be very atypical to have a surgical complication three months out, especially in the absence of other symptoms. What he suspects is that the dissolvable internal stitches do not always dissolve evenly, and one may have snapped resulting in a pull or small tear in the tender muscles. He said it should subdide in a few days. If if doesnt or other symptoms present, we may do another scan, but he would like to avoid the extra radiation if possible and he really feels the issue will resolve shortly.  

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 1757
Joined: Jan 2013

Its always good to get that porfessional opinion. 

I hope that the pain is subsiding already, and we can put it down to this small thing. 

I am glad that you were able to get in to see him. 

How are you handling the chemo? I hope no significant side effects. 

Posts: 120
Joined: Oct 2013

I just finished round 3/12 of the FOLFOX (it sounds better when I say 1/4 of the way there!).  So far it's been a mixed bag for me.  The first treatment went amazingly smoothly minus a steroid-induced headache that was addressed in later treatments by running it slower and some horrid contipation.  Alas, round two was like getting hit by a truck.  That evening, every joint in my body ached and I was exhausted.  I'm still trying to get a handle on the first few days of constipation (have now started the colace the day before), followed by looser stool and some relatively minor diarrhea.  The exhaustion comes and goes and I try to rest when I feel that way. My hair has thinned a fair bit, which is kind of depressing not from a vanity standpoint, but more an identity one as I have always had long hair and I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep it.  They say it is unlikely I would lose all my hair, but mine seems to have other things in mind.

The worst has been the cold sensitivity/neuropathy, and I'm afraid I can't always tell them apart or if they are really one and the same.  I mean, I know the electric shock feeling I get when I touch something cold, and am careful to wear gloves when handling anything suspect cold.  However, those same shocky and stingy feelings happen in my hands and feet the first few days too.  At first I thought this must be neuropathy because I'm not handling cold.  But then it would subside when I would sit on my hands or warm them up further even though they didn't feel that cold to begin with.  So is this neuropathy or cold sensitivity?  I can't say for sure.  I also pray this is not a permanent thing, but I keep hearing about the horrors of lingering FOLFOX neuropathy and that scares me.  I'm a writer and so being able to type is pretty darn important to me :(  Though I suppose living is way more important than that too and I pray this works so badly.

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 1757
Joined: Jan 2013

Sadly all of your symptoms are normal. Well, happy that they are normal but sad that you have to experience them.

I know just what you mean about the 'is it, is it not neuropathy?' as that is how I felt too. I personally found out that it was not neuropathy, as when that did hit, I definitely knew it. 

I'm sorry about the hair too. I remember thinking (oh, its good to be at the 'I remember' stage) that it would be no big deal to lose my hair, but when it started happening, I confess I was devestated. I knew it would grow back, but oh, how hard it was to see it all over the place but on my head. I ended up looking like Gollum (Lord of the Rings), so I just shaved it all off. 

Body aches and pains are hard to deal with. A nice hot bath works wonders, but alas is just a quick fix. I have terrible joint pain now, and I'm about to try healing oils. One has to try everything. 

Keep up the good work though. We are here for you all the time, not just when the going gets tough. 



So Worried
Posts: 111
Joined: Aug 2012

My hubby started getting bad pain about 3 months after surgery and it ended up being a fistula which he is still suffering from and nobody knows what to do. I am not saying that to scare you, but maybe mention it to your Dr. to rule it out. Prayers for you to be pain free....

Posts: 272
Joined: Nov 2011

Adhesions start 3 - 5 hours after surgery is completed and can worsen for years and years.  Since adhesions are rubbery, thick fibers that link one organ to another, they can cause quite a bit of discomfort.  There is no treatment unless they're causing obstructions, etc. because more surgery creates more adhesions.

I did read that PT and deep tissue massage has been shown to break loose some adhesions and relive the pain. 


Best of Luck


Posts: 373
Joined: Apr 2013

1 year after surgery.  He has been suffering with severe cramping and constipation for about 2 months now.  He's had a ct scan, colonoscopy, blood work, 2 extra "clean outs" 5X fiber pills, Lactulose, Miralax, Mag Citrate, you name it.  He has a follow up with onc. this morning and has been in daily contact with gastro doc.  He did a partial prep a week ago today and another partial yesterday. Both times he was cleaned out and wiped out afterwards.  After clear colonoscopy, dr. said he had irritiable bowel. He's been having mild food, water, fiber and laxatives.  Something else must be going on.  Maybe a fistula or small intestines problem? He's about had it.  He said this cramping is worse than the colon resection and recovery.  He uses the heating pad almost all day every day in his lower abdomen.  Of course, pain pills cause more constipation, which he doesn't need.  He'll be talking to the gastro dr. again today.  Anyone else have this kind of cramping?  Poor guy needs some relief.


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