Sharp Pain in Right Side After Gallbladder Surgery

Sharp Pain in Right Side After Gallbladder Surgery

The gallbladder is a small, hollow, pear-shaped organ located below the liver, on the upper right side of the abdomen. This organ is responsible for temporarily holding the bile produced by the liver until it is time to release it into the small intestine. The bile, made up of bile salts, bilirubin, and cholesterol, helps the digestive system to break down fat. While performing its duties, the gallbladder may be affected by diseases or develop problems that can lead to more severe health issues.

Gallbladder diseases are disastrous because they may cause pain, put your health at risk, and cause further complications. Even with the organ’s perceived importance, your body can function normally without it. Therefore, gallbladder removal surgery is one of the most common treatment methods for gallbladder diseases, despite surgery being the last resort for several ailments. While the procedure is relatively safe, you may develop a random sharp pain in the chest and right side after gallbladder removal. This article will explore the causes of pain after gallbladder surgery and treatment methods for post-surgical pain at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy.

What is Gallbladder Removal Surgery?

Cholecystectomy, popularly known as gallbladder removal surgery, is a standard procedure to remove the gallbladder because of diseases, infections, or other conditions. Most times, a cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive surgery, and it usually employs general anesthesia. The gallbladder is not a vital organ as it is just a temporary storage tank for the bile the liver produces. Hence, removing it helps treat gallbladder diseases and infections without damaging your general health.

Why Do You Need a Gallbladder Removal Surgery?

The following are conditions that require you to undergo a cholecystectomy:

  • Gallstones: Gallstones are small stones that form in a person’s gallbladder because of a chemical imbalance in the bile’s composition. These small stones are composed of too much cholesterol, calcium salts, and bilirubin (bile pigments) in the gallbladder, and they can block the flow of bile into the intestine after a while when they multiply or develop at the entrance of the gallbladder. Some people have gallstones without any symptoms, while others develop severe sharp pain, often after eating. Failure to treat this condition can lead to serious liver and pancreas problems, and to prevent all of these complications, you may need to undergo a gallbladder removal surgery in Bedford, TX.
  • Gallbladder inflammation: When stones build up in the gallbladder, a common complication is cholecystitis, the medical term for gallbladder inflammation. Cancerous tumors in the gallbladder may also prevent the flow of bile and lead to inflammation. Other causes of gallbladder inflammation include infections and severe illnesses (Biliary dyskinesia, bile stasis, biliary stricture, etc). Symptoms of an inflamed gallbladder include severe pain in some parts of the body, tenderness of the abdomen, fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal muscle stiffness, etc.
  • Gallbladder cancer: Gallbladder cancer is an uncommon problem of the gallbladder. It occurs due to abnormal growth of malignant cells in the gallbladder. This condition begins in the inner part of the gallbladder and spreads to the outer part over time. Gallbladder cancer does not often show visible signs or symptoms. Therefore, it may take a long time before the victim detects the condition because of the size and location of the gallbladder. If symptoms of gallbladder manifest, they may be confused with those of cholecystitis. When discovered quickly, there is a higher chance of cure. However, since the condition does not manifest visible symptoms, gallbladder removal surgery is usually the most viable option by the time gallbladder cancer is detected.

These are the most common signs that indicate that you may need gallbladder removal surgery. These gallbladder conditions may cause rib pain, right shoulder pain, and pain in some other parts of your body. They may also lead to further critical complications and affect the overall quality of your life. Hence, there is a need for gallbladder surgery.

Types of Gallbladder Surgery

The types of gallbladder surgery are grouped based on the method used for the surgical procedure. There are two major types. These include:

Laparoscopic Surgery

Also known as keyhole surgery, laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves a surgeon making small incisions around the surgery site to access the gallbladder. A long, thin tube, known as a laparoscope, is inserted into your body through one of the incisions. A tiny camera is attached to the tube, through which the doctor makes their way through your stomach from the video feedback on a monitor screen. The doctor also inserts other surgical tools through the other incisions they must have made earlier. Surgeons mostly use the laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery method because it involves less bleeding, causes less pain, and has a faster recovery time.

Open Surgery

This method is the traditional surgical method. It involves making a single, large incision in the upper right part of your abdomen. When your skin is out of the way, the surgeon pulls your muscles and tissues back to reveal your liver and gallbladder. The surgeon then takes out the damaged gallbladder and closes up the incision. While it is more invasive compared to the laparoscopic type of surgery, open surgery is relatively safe, and surgeons prefer it in some situations. 

Gallbladder removal surgery can relieve the pain and discomfort that come with gallstones and other gallbladder problems, regardless of the surgical method that you undergo. A cholecystectomy removes gallstones permanently because it takes the entire gallbladder with it. However, you will not experience any digestive problems without your gallbladder because the liver will produce enough bile for digestion.

How Can Physical Therapy Help You?

Physical therapists in Bedford can help treat and manage the sharp pain you may feel in the upper right side of your abdomen after a gallbladder surgery. They employ pain management, scar tissue management, strengthening exercises, postural education, breathing exercises, etc, to relieve severe pain and ensure that you are back on your feet in no time after gallbladder removal surgery. Benefits of physical therapy after gallbladder removal surgery include pain relief, improved mobility, faster recovery, prevention of future complications, etc.

Why Do You Feel Pain in Your Right Side After Cholecystectomy

Like every other surgical procedure, you are likely to feel pain after a cholecystectomy. However, the pain from a gallbladder removal surgery is very minimal. You may experience pain in your abdomen due to soreness from the incision site. Some patients may also experience shoulder pain from some of the gas left in the stomach for some days. However, if the pain exceeds the expected recovery period,  you may have other problems. Factors that cause pain in your right side after cholecystectomy include:

Post-Cholecystectomy Syndrome

This term refers to the presence of abdominal symptoms, even after cholecystectomy. These symptoms may continue due to the effects of gallbladder damage (nausea, vomiting, or upper abdominal pain) or gallbladder removal (diarrhea, bloating, fatigue). Factors that cause post-cholecystectomy syndrome include abnormal bile flow, scar tissues, retained gallstones, Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction, etc. PCS can cause severe pain in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen after a gallbladder removal surgery.

Surgical Complications

While gallbladder removal surgery is generally safe, you may experience some complications after the surgery that cause severe pain. Common complications that may cause pain in your right side after cholecystectomy include:

  • Bile duct injury: The bile ducts are the organs that transport bile from the liver to the small intestines. However, a surgeon may accidentally damage the bile ducts during gallbladder removal surgery. A bile duct injury can lead to severe pain, jaundice, and other infections after surgery.
  • Infections: The surgical or incision site may develop infections, leading to severe pain, swelling, fever, redness, etc. 
  • Bleeding: You may bleed even after surgery. Bleeding may lead to swelling and bruising at the incision site and cause severe pain.
  • Hernia: A hernia is the protrusion of abdominal contents through a weakness in the abdominal wall, which can cause severe pain and possibly tissue death if left untreated.
  • Liver injury: Although rare, damage may occur to your liver during a gallbladder removal surgery. This condition leads to severe pain.

Other surgical complications that may cause pain even after the completion of a gallbladder removal surgery include pancreatitis, bile leaking into the stomach, general anesthesia risks, blood clots, blood vessel injury, etc. 

In conclusion, a cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure surgeons perform to remove the gallbladder due to injury, damage, and diseases. A gallbladder removal surgery is relatively safe and effective. However, complications may arise after a cholecystectomy, leading to severe pain in specific parts of your body. This pain may hinder you from carrying out your daily activities and reduce the overall quality of your life. If you feel unbearable pain after a gallbladder removal surgery, you should consider going for physical therapy at Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy.