How to Reduce Pain After Hernia Surgery

How much pain you experience after hernia surgery will depend on the type of surgery you have had. According to the Cleveland Clinic, complex or recurrent hernias may take more extensive surgery to fix, thus making your recovery time longer and more painful. Even though most surgeries are done on an outpatient basis under sedation rather than general anesthesia, it is still major surgery, so will feel pain afterward.

Medicine capsules spilled on table. (Image: enriscapes/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Take any prescription medication your doctor gives you as directed. Most people will feel little pain after hernia surgery, but this is not true in every case. Make sure you understand if there are any drug interactions you should watch out for.

Step 2

Use ice packs to relieve the pain and swelling. This type of surgery is minimally invasive, but there will still be swelling and bruising afterward. Apply ice packs for 20 minutes and then remove for at least 40 minutes, repeating as often as necessary. Ice restricts blood flow and slows healing, so do not overuse this method of managing your pain and bruising.

Step 3

Manage your pain by taking over-the-counter pain relievers once any prescription pain pills have run out. Follow the directions on the package very carefully and do not take more than the recommended dosages.

Step 4

Consume a high-fiber diet or take stool-softening products. Constipation is highly uncomfortable, and straining may stress your surgical site. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, oatmeal and other whole grains, and drink plenty of water—not coffee or caffeinated tea. Fruit juices are OK.

Step 5

Take it easy. After most hernia surgeries, you will return to normal activities within a few days of surgery, but do not perform any sports activities or work out for at least a couple of weeks. You may be feeling better, but your body needs time to heal. Avoid pain by avoiding strenuous activities, and resume your workouts gradually.

Things You'll Need

  • Prescription pain medication

  • Ice packs

  • Over-the-counter pain medication

  • Stool softener


According to the American College of Surgeons, side effects from hernia surgery are rare. Infections or bleeding can occur at the surgical site, and scar tissue will likely form. Numbness is also likely after hernia surgery. This is normal and should disappear within six weeks to six months. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.

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