Could a C section give you chronic pain? New research indicates Caesarian sections can carry a host of long term side effects that you might not be aware of. C-section scars have the potential to negatively impact women’s health and quality of life long after giving birth.
C-sections occur for various reasons. Sometimes C-sections are medically necessary. Perhaps, a mother cannot deliver her baby due to a small birth canal. If vaginal birth is deemed to be too risky to the baby, a C-section might be scheduled to remove baby quickly. Scheduled elective C-sections sometimes also take place.
What many women don’t know is that caesarian sections can actually lead to chronic pain. Scars and scar tissue are linked to a range of symptoms, some of which might not seem obvious at first. While some people require c-sections for the health of both mother and child, it’s important to take into account the link between C-sections and chronic pain when thinking about having an elective C-section.
This isn’t a post about whether or not C-sections are better or worse than natural births. Every mom needs to make the decision about what’s right for her and her baby, with the support of her doctor, or midwife. But when you make a decision, you need all of the information.
So here is some of the most current information about C-section pain research. It’s information for moms thinking about having a C-section and for moms who have already had a C-section. If you had a Caesarian section in the past and have chronic pain but don’t know why, this post is for you.
What are Caesarian Sections
Most people have a basic understanding of what a C-section is. It involves doctors surgically removing the baby. But do you really know what that entails? A C-section involves so much more than just making an incision and removing a baby. Surgeons must cut through skin, muscle, fascia, peritoneum (abdominal lining). They also cut through the uterus – which has three muscle layers, by the way. That’s a lot. And when the baby is out, all that tissue has to be put back together again. When you consider all the nerves and connective tissue involved, it’s no wonder a connection has been made to caesarian sections and chronic pain.
Why are Caesarian Sections Linked to Chronic Pain?
Between the nerves, blood vessels, fascia, and peritoneum being cut through and then stitched back together and the scarring that often comes with that, it’s not surprising that a link between C-sections and chronic pain has been discovered. After all, a C-section is invasive. So what have researchers found?
C-section scarring can have a neurological effect on a mother’s body. Cutting through nerve circuits and pathways can stop, block, or change the natural flow of impulses down abdominal nerve pathways. C-section scarring can disrupt proper nerve signaling by sending mixed signals throughout the connective tissue causing the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to fire on overdrive. This causes a pain cycle that can become chronic.
The pain from C-section scarring can be mental as well as emotional. Researchers have found that the scarring of the skin can negatively effect a mother’s mental quality of life by being a physical representation of negative feelings about having to have or electing to have a C-section.
Caesarian sections can also affect the structural integrity of the body fascia. The body fascia – or peritoneum that I mentioned earlier – is kind of like the foundation on which our muscles are built. Our body has a fascia system from head to toe. This system surrounds and connects every muscle and organ, keeping them where they need to be as they relate to our bones and nerves. It’s the reason everything stays in place when we move.
C-sections disrupt that fascia system. Cutting the fascia and connective tissues and then reattaching them can cause them to act like a straight jacket inside the abdomen, causing compression, pain, and dysfunction. And because our fascia system is connected from head to toe, a C-section in the abdomen can cause pain well away from the surgical area. That’s why it’s taken so long for researchers to make the connection. C-section pain is often a “hidden” pain because fascia abnormalities aren’t something that show up on X-rays or scans.
What can be Done to Alleviate Chronic Caesarian Section Pain
Chronic caesarian pain is generally treated with scar release therapy. The goal of this therapy is to ease pain by reducing the point of dysfunction (the scar). Three different techniques are used with varying success rates.
Cross friction massage is a manual therapy which has been used for years to help with c-section scarring – even before the link to pain was made. However, success with this method has been minimal, and researchers now know that it’s because the friction itself often causes an increase in sympathetic stress in the area.
Neural therapy involves injecting procaine into the scar to relieve and manage pain. It’s highly invasive and can only be done by qualified doctors in a clinical setting. However, the success rate is around 60 to 70%.
This has quickly become the gold standard for treating chronic pain caused by caesarian sections. It’s a non-invasive procedure that uses DC stimulation directly through scars to reduce stress in the area and encourage loosening of the fascia which has become overly tight from surgery. MPS can be done at home.
Know the Facts about Caesarian Sections and Chronic Pain
Education is crucial when making health care decisions. If you must have a C-section, or you’re thinking about an elective C-section, be informed. Know the facts about caesarian sections and pain. Don’t be alarmist, but do stay on the lookout for signs of post C-section issues. By the same token, if you’ve had one or more C-sections in the past, and you are experiencing chronic pain, this information may be something you want to share with your doctor.
Caesarian sections are a part of life – sometimes necessary, sometimes elective. Either way it pays to be informed about your health. Not all women experience chronic pain due to caesarian sections, but if you ARE experiencing pain please talk with your doctor. They can help.
This post has been sponsored by Center for Pain and Stress Research which means I received compensation. My opinion is my own and it is truthful.