When Healing Hurts: Understanding Hernia Repair Pain Years Later

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Written By Rocky Horton

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Many people who have had surgery for a hernia, experience hernia repair pain years later. I’ve heard a lot of people communicate how vulnerable they felt when they paid for an expensive hernia repair surgery in the hope that their pain would go away, only to find that the pain got even worse over time.

Unfortunately, many people who undergo this surgery experience hernia repair pain years later. While these surgeries are commonplace, they frequently malfunction over time, causing painful damage to the person’s body that can be worse than the pain of the hernia.

If you suffer from hernia repair pain, especially if it didn’t start until years after your surgery, don’t wait. I always tell my clients – the clock is always ticking on when and how you can receive a settlement for surgeries. Contact a personal injury attorney near you to learn more about being compensated for hernia repair pain.

What Causes Hernia Mesh Pain?

Post-operative pain is always possible after any surgery because your body processes surgeries as injuries, leading to an inflammation response. This is “good pain,” in many cases. However, as many as 16% of patients experience hernia repair pain years later.

This kind of pain results from complications that go beyond the body’s natural response to the surgery. They could include:

Reactions to the mesh: Hernia mesh is made from polypropylene, a hard thermoplastic used in many consumer products. Over time, this material can erode and “migrate” into surrounding tissues, causing a painful reaction.

Nerve entrapment or injury: During the surgery, nerves can be damaged, causing pain. However, the mesh can also cause inflammation and adhesions after the fact that cause scar tissue to form, which can trap or irritate nerves months or even years after the initial surgery.

How Long Does Hernia Mesh Pain Last?

The hernia mesh that the surgeon implants to contain the herniated tissue commonly causes post-surgery pain. For 3-6 months after the surgery, patients can experience this pain, which is usually a result of inflammation. However, hernia repair pain could also appear years after the surgery and become chronic.

Types of Hernia Mesh Pain

Hernia mesh pain can range from mild to severe. The pain you experience is determined by the problem with the mesh, whether it’s a complication with the device itself or an adverse reaction from your body.

What is perforation?

Perforation is a dangerous complication of hernia mesh surgery where the bowel becomes obstructed by the mesh or by inflammation and scar tissue resulting from it. If this happens, the perforation can cut off blood flow to intestinal tissues, leading to potentially fatal consequences.

If you have had hernia mesh surgery, speak with your doctor right away if you have unexplained fever, vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or difficulty passing gas.

What is migration?

Migration” is the term used to describe the dangerous possibility of the hernia mesh moving from its intended location to other tissues. While rare, this complication often causes hernia repair pain years later.

Locations of Hernia Mesh Pain

The pain can remain localized to the mesh or radiate to surrounding areas. For example, the inflammation response from a hernia mesh implanted in the patient’s groin (inguinal hernia) can often be felt in the lower abdomen, legs, or genitalia.

In my experience, positively linking the pain you experience to the hernia mesh implant settlement. Many people with hernias suffer from other chronic conditions, which could cause their pain symptoms as well. The hospital’s insurers and lawyers will no doubt point this out.

Therefore, a doctor’s evaluation of your history is needed to confirm the source of the pain so you can be compensated for it.

Impact of Chronic Hernia Mesh Pain

Chronic hernia mesh pain can precede complex and painful issues. An infection from bacteria invading the surgical site will cause pain immediately and may warrant antibiotic treatment. More significantly, a perforated bowel caused by the mesh years later can cause internal infections that can be life-threatening.

What is rejection?

“Rejection” refers to when your body reacts to the mesh as if it’s a foreign substance that needs to be removed. Doctors can recognize the signs of rejection and prescribe medicines to help.

If left untreated, rejection can cause an infection that may force the surgeon to operate again to remove the mesh.

What is hernia recurrence?

Unfortunately, hernia repair surgeries are not foolproof. Depending on the location and complexity of the hernia, the rate of recurrence even after surgery can be 1-3% (groin hernias) or as high as 20% for complex abdominal or stoma hernias.

Treatment Options for Hernia Mesh Pain

Depending on the cause of the hernia mesh pain, doctors may prescribe PRP injections, painkillers, nerve ablations, antibiotics, or anti-rejection drugs. In my experience, patients who have this pain can be prescribed numerous drugs, including NSAIDs, SSRIs, analgesics, or antidepressants.

In addition to the symptoms of the hernia mesh complications, these medications can also lead to additional issues (and costs) for people who are just trying to feel better. If more conservative treatments fail, your surgeon may schedule you for hernia mesh removal or hernia mesh revision surgery.

What is a long-term or delayed complication?

Long-term complications are any problems that arise more than two weeks after your surgery. Delayed complications are those that do not make themselves evident at all until later, sometimes years after the hernia mesh has been implanted.

What is a statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is the time you have after discovering your injuries to sue for damages. The statute exists so that you can sue for damages in cases involving delayed complications that occur years after surgery. However, the statute also protects the surgeon/hospital from cases that happened too long ago to verify.

The statute differs depending on the state you were operated in. Most statutes are 1-2 years after the injury is discovered, but some states go as high as 6 years (Maine and North Dakota).

Contact a Post-Surgical Pain Specialist

If you hope to be compensated for hernia repair pain years later, contact a legal specialist who has dealt with cases involving post-surgical pain or hernia mesh recalls. An attorney from your area can help you learn more about the statute of limitations and how it will affect your case. They can also help you review your medical history and assemble the documentation needed to win your settlement.

Remember that there’s no time to delay. If you’ve become aware of your injuries, the clock is ticking on how long you have to file for the compensation you deserve for your hernia mesh pain.

Rocky Horton

Rocky Horton


Rocky Horton is a health and safety expert from Chapel Hill, NC. He is the founder of AccidentAdvisor and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Learn more.