If you’ve ever had your leg go to sleep, you know what neural pain and numbness feels like. There are so many nerves in the pelvis and legs that I could write a 10,000 word blog and still miss some of them. Neuromuscular pain complications after pelvic surgery are complicated and distressing, to say the least. It is a topic that we plan to cover frequently in the future. For today, our will focus will be on nerve injuries caused by mesh surgery, whether it was from putting the mesh in, making revisions, or taking it out. One study found post operative nerve injury affects about 2 percent of pelvic surgery patients but this number may be missing a whole lot of people who don’t return to complain.
Nerve pain that does not get better within 6 months of surgery changes your life in the most miserable way. There is no way to get comfortable, moving hurts and resting hurts. It is hard to get it off your mind, especially when you try to sleep. You find yourself having to learn new ways to cope. Treatment is fraught with trial and errors.
While you are having pelvic surgery, your nerves are in danger for several reasons. First, they can be ligated (cut), either accidentally or intentionally. Also, a nerve can become compressed or stretched by the way your body is positioned for surgery (see photos), or when instruments like retractors or clamps are used incorrectly, or after a blood clot develops. Lastly, after the surgery, swelling and inflammation can injure your nerves. It is called post surgery inflammatory neuropathy.
Pain, paresthesias (“pins and needles,” burning, tingling, a feeling like there is a cotton sheet over your skin, numbness), loss of sensation and weakness are the most common feelings you have when you have a nerve injury.
Ten common mesh surgery nerve injuries involve:
• Obturator Nerve
• Ilioinguinal/iliohypogastric Nerve
• Genitofemoral Nerve
• Femoral Nerve
• Pudendal Nerve Entrapment
• Common Fibular Nerve
• Sapenous Nerve
• Piriformis Syndrome
• Fibular Neuropathy
• Peripheral Neuropathy
Some patients have more than one nerve injury. One even called hers the “mesh trifecta: sciatica, obturator and pudendal nerve damage.”
If you’d like to join an online support group and learn about erosion, partial removals, surgeons, or just find out that you are not alone, check the list of support groups here.
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