Shoulder Pain After Laparoscopic Surgery

Shoulder Pain After Laparoscopic Surgery

Undergoing a surgical procedure comes with risks and complications. These risks include post-operative infections, hemorrhage, blood clots, and anesthesia complications. Although no surgery is risk-free, laparoscopic surgery reduces post-operative risks to a bare minimum.

Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and is suitable for several surgeries, including endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy removal, hernia repair, and gastric bypass. The procedure also minimizes direct contact between a surgeon and a patient and reduces post-operative recovery time. However, the procedure results in shoulder pain in patients.

This article discusses why you may experience shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery and how physical therapy in Bedford, TX, can help relieve this pain.

Laparoscopic Surgery Overview

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that aids in fast recovery and better surgical outcomes. A surgeon uses a laparoscope, a thin rod with an attached camera, to see the abdominal and pelvic cavities through tiny incisions. Consequently, your surgeon will only make two to four small incisions instead of large cuts for abdominal surgery.

During laparoscopic surgery in Bedford, TX, your surgeon will inflate your stomach with gas. Consequently, your surgeon can look around your abdomen on a video monitor and operate. After the procedure, your surgeon will let the gas out and close the incisions with stitches.

Although laparoscopic surgery is generally safe, you may experience rare but minor complications like nausea and infection—nevertheless, this type of surgery results in smaller scars, less downtime, and less internal scarring.

Laparoscopic Surgery Vs. Open Surgery

The incision size is the most significant difference between laparoscopic and open surgeries. Open surgeries require a much larger incision compared to laparoscopic surgery. Consequently, with open surgery, there is an increased risk of infection and a longer downtime. In addition, laparoscopic surgery has lower chances of complications.

However, open surgeries may use local anesthesia, while laparoscopic surgeries need general anesthesia. Consequently, it is more expensive. In addition, laparoscopic surgery has its limitations. For example, it may not be suitable for patients with medical conditions like heart disease or obesity.

What Conditions are Laparoscopic Surgery Suitable for?

Laparoscopic surgery, also known as keyhole surgery, is suitable for several conditions developing the abdomen or pelvis. In addition, this type of surgery is widely employed for treating conditions affecting the female reproductive, urinary, and digestive systems.

Laparoscopy is used for the following;


Endometriosis is a painful disorder where tissue similar to the one lining the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus. The endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down during each menstrual cycle, and bleeds. However, because the tissue cannot escape the body, it becomes trapped, causing severe pain during menstrual periods and fertility problems.

Symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, painful intercourse, excessive bleeding, and infertility. Your doctor can use laparoscopy to diagnose and treat endometriosis. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon will remove the endometrial tissue.

Ectopic Pregnancy Removal

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, especially in the fallopian tube. This condition is life-threatening and can lead to bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy cannot continue because only the uterus is meant to carry a pregnancy.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, and pelvis. You may also experience vaginal bleeding and weakness. Laparoscopic surgery helps your doctor view the tubal area.

Depending on the amount of bleeding and damage, your doctor may remove the ectopic pregnancy and leave the tube to heal. But if the fallopian tube is ruptured, your doctor may remove both the ectopic pregnancy and the tube.

Hernia Repair

Hernia occurs when a part of the insides bulges through a muscle or tissue barrier defect. Regular wear and tear, age, injury, or birth disorders can result in hernias. Initially, hernias are not serious. However, with time, the hernia can get stuck in the hole and can’t go back in.

Hernia can become cut off from the blood supply, causing tissue death and pain. In addition, a visible lump or bulge that appears in certain physical positions or during certain activities is a symptom of a hernia.

Your doctor can remove the hernia during laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopy for hernia removal results in less pain post-surgery, a short downtime, and a quicker return to work.

Gastric Bypass

A gastric bypass surgery is a weight loss surgery done when diet and exercise have not worked. It is also used when there are health complications due to weight. During a gastric bypass, your surgeon will create a small pouch from the stomach and connect it to the small intestine. Swallowed food enters this small pouch and into the small intestine. Consequently, patients absorb fewer calories from food, helping them lose weight.

Your surgeon can create a gastric bypass using laparoscopic surgery. Because the surgery is minimally invasive, it results in a shorter hospital stay, lower risk of infection, and fewer complications.

Ovarian Cysts Removal

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in or on the surface of an ovary. Although cysts are harmless and often go away independently without treatment, they sometimes rupture. Ruptured ovarian cysts can result in bloating, pelvic pain, or fullness in your belly.

Your surgeon can remove ovarian cysts through laparoscopic surgery. Recovery is quick, and you should be able to resume your activities within a week.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Laparoscopic Surgery?

Recovery from laparoscopic surgery varies. The recovery period depends on the purpose of the surgery, the age and general health of the patient, and the presence of other medical conditions. Minor laparoscopic surgery, like appendix removal, does not have as much downtime as removing ovaries or kidneys.

Nevertheless, your surgeon will inform you how long recovery should take and give you instructions to speed your recovery.

Is Shoulder Pain Common after Laparoscopic Surgery?

Shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery is common and results from trapped CO2 gas. During a laparoscopy surgery, your surgeon will inflate your abdomen with gas. Although your surgeon will remove most of the gas towards the end of the surgery, the residual gas causes pressure along the diaphragm. This pressure then irritates the phrenic nerve, causing shoulder pain.

How to Remove Residual Gas after Laparoscopic Surgery?

Trapped gas is the cause of shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery. You can relieve this gas by walking. Walking each day and gradually increasing your distance daily can boost blood flow and relieve gas. Applying a heat pack may also provide relief from the trapped gas.

Why Do You Need Physical Therapy after Laparoscopic Surgery?

Physical therapy after a procedure helps to speed healing and restore function. Other benefits of physical therapy after laparoscopic surgery include;

Easing Pain and Inflammation

Laparoscopy-induced shoulder pain results from gas buildup irritating the phrenic nerve. Physical therapy for shoulder pain includes stretching and strengthening exercises that reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness.

Promoting Healing

Physical therapists use techniques that promote blood flow to your shoulders. Increased circulation reduces inflammation and promotes healing, helping you recover quickly.

Improving Strength

Although laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive, you may still experience downtime. During this time, inactivity reduces your strength, flexibility, and mobility. However, you can regain your strength with physical therapy without jeopardizing your health.

Reducing the Chance of Complications

After surgery, moving your body instead of sitting on the couch or lying in bed all day reduces the chances of complications. Movement improves blood flow and prevents heart and lung complications. Physical therapists develop customized treatment plans to help you heal fast without straining you.

Physical Therapy Treatments for Laparoscopy-Induced Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery in Bedford may last about a day or two. However, with physical therapy, you can speed up your healing and prevent the risk of complications. Some physical therapy treatments for shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery include;

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy reduces inflammation and swelling. You can apply an ice pack wrapped in a damp towel to the site. When using this treatment, apply the ice for 20 minutes.

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy eases stiffness and soreness. You can use a hot water bottle or a heat pack. However, do not apply the heat source directly to your skin to prevent inflammation. Instead, wrap it in a dry towel and apply it to the sore site for 15-20 minutes.

Stretching And Strengthening Exercises

Your physical therapist will recommend exercises to help your stretch and strengthen your shoulder. These exercises also relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and improve your range of motion. Contrarily, physical therapy exercises do not cause pain. Instead, your physical therapist recommends exercises well-suited to your pain level.

Get Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain in Bedford, Texas

Shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery should last about two days. However, physical therapy speeds up your healing, restores your range of motion, and improves your strength. Barkman & Smith Physical Therapy offers services that evaluate your condition and prescribes appropriate treatment.