What Are the Causes of Side Pain Around a Colostomy Stoma?

A colostomy stoma is a hole in the abdomen opening into the intestines. A colostomy is often needed when part of the colon or rectum is removed and allows stools moving through the intestines to drain out of the stoma and into a bag attached to the side, explains Medline Plus. After the surgery heals, a person with a colostomy stoma may sometimes experience pain in the side or abdomen. In some cases, the pain may be an indicator of a severe problem.

Medical team performing an operation (Image: Dutko/iStock/Getty Images)

Hernia

The most common cause of side pain in people with a colostomy stoma is a hernia, reports the American Cancer Society. A hernia occurs when a muscle in the abdominal wall tears, and intestines or other organs bulge out through the tear, sometimes forming a lump under the skin. Because the stoma itself is a hole in the abdominal wall, it increases the likelihood of a larger tear occurring and causing a hernia.

Causes of Hernia

Several factors can increase the risk of a hernia. Obesity is one risk factor, because the extra weight puts added pressure on the abdominal wall, increasing the risk of a tear. Infection around the stoma site also weakens the muscles and increases the risk. Heavy coughing causes intense pressure on the muscles of the abdominal wall and can force an hernia to occur, according to the British Hernia Centre.

Intestinal Strangulation

In rare cases, a large hernia causes the intestines to become twisted or kinked, resulting in an intestinal obstruction. This condition become very serious if the blood supply to the intestines is cut off, which is called strangulation, explains the British Hernia Centre. Intestinal strangulation is extremely painful and requires immediate emergency medical attention. The intestines need to be untwisted, usually by a surgeon, before the loss of blood flow kills the cells of the intestines, causing permanent damage.

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