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It is difficult to pronounce, but its proper function can mean the difference between an easy or a troublesome recovery from cesarean section. The ilioinguinal nerve is one of three inside the belly wall that can be irritated, compressed, or damaged during a C-section. The others are the iliohypogastric nerve and the genitofemoral nerve.
What does this alphabet soup mean for women recovering from C-sections? Nothing. Or everything. It just depends.
Nerve injuries after C-sections are very rare. An estimated 1-3% of women experience persistent nerve pain after having a C-section.
The very act of surgery necessitates cutting some small nerves in the skin and surrounding tissues. So it is not uncommon for patients of all types to have some uncomfortable, usually superficial, post-surgical nerve symptoms such as burning, tenderness, or numbness around the scar.
The ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves are located very close to the edge of a typical C-section incision. Because of this close proximity, these nerves may become irritated, bruised, compressed, cut, or trapped by scar tissue. In general, nerves don’t heal as readily as other tissues. However, in most cases, the nerves heal without any long-term effects. If a nerve injury does not heal in a reasonable amount of time, then nerve damage may result.
Once nerve damage is confirmed, common treatments may include:
• non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
• topical numbing medication (patch or cream)
• nerve blocks using steroid medication
• antidepressant therapy
• weight loss regimen (can relieve pressure on nerve)
• spinal cord stimulation
Women who experience prolonged post-cesarean nerve pain should consult their physician to discuss strategies to manage their pain.
This blog provides general information and discussion about healthcare-related subjects. The content and linked materials provided are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader is an expectant mother with a medical concern, she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare provider.
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