Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat symptomatic uterine fibroids. UFE offers several benefits, such as eliminating debilitating symptoms, preserving the uterus, and avoiding major surgery.
During recovery from UFE, patients may experience varying levels of pain; however, it generally only lasts one week and is significantly less than that experienced after surgical removal of fibroids.
In this article, we will explore the topic of pain after uterine fibroid embolization, its causes, and strategies for effectively managing discomfort during the healing process.
Summary Of Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure performed by an interventional radiologist to shrink or eliminate fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus. During the UFE procedure, tiny particles are injected into the blood vessels that supply the fibroids, blocking their much-needed blood flow and causing them to shrink or die gradually over time.
How Does Uterine Fibroid Embolization Eliminate Painful Symptoms
UFE shrinks or eliminates fibroids, and most women report vast improvements in heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and pressure within just a few months of having the procedure.
Additionally, women who have large uterine fibroids can experience relief from symptoms that are not as well known to be associated with fibroids. Sometimes fibroids can grow large enough to crowd other organs or push on vital nerves, causing pain or discomfort.
When fibroids shrink, they no longer crowd other organs, and many patients have experienced the elimination of leg pain after uterine fibroid embolization. Fibroids can cause pinched nerves that mimic the symptoms of sciatica, so neutralizing these fibroids causes them to shrink, relieving pressure as well as leg or back pain after UFE.
Can I Expect Pain After Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
Patients who have the UFE procedure experience significantly less pain and a shorter recovery period compared to patients who have traditional surgery. While it is not uncommon for patients to experience some degree of discomfort following the procedure, The severity and duration of pain can vary from person to person, but it typically subsides within a week to ten days.
Some discomforts that patients may experience after uterine fibroid embolization include:
- Cramping and Pelvic Discomfort
- After UFE, it is common to experience cramping and pelvic discomfort. This is due to the embolization process causing the fibroids to break down, which can trigger temporary inflammation and muscle contractions. The intensity of cramping can vary by patient, and it is typically managed with prescription pain medication.
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Some individuals may experience nausea and vomiting after UFE. These symptoms are usually short-lived and can be alleviated with prescribed anti-nausea medications.
- Mild Leg (Groin) Discomfort
- Occasionally, patients may experience some tenderness in their upper leg (groin area) following UFE. This can be a result of irritation at the entry site of the embolization process. Usually, the prescribed medications and applying heat or ice packs to the affected areas will provide relief.
- Post-Embolization Syndrome
- In some cases, patients may develop post-embolization syndrome (PES), which includes symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and pelvic pain. This can occur due to the body’s inflammation response to the dying fibroids. Your doctor will provide you with a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medication, and you must take this medication as directed to mitigate the risks of PES.
If these symptoms are severe or persistent, it is important to call your doctor for further evaluation and management.
How Can I Best Manage Pain After Uterine Fibroid Embolization?
While some degree of pain or discomfort is to be expected after UFE, there are several strategies to help manage and alleviate these symptoms during the recovery period:
- Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to manage post-UFE pain. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage and instructions carefully. After the initial few days, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be used as directed;
- Applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to the lower abdomen can help alleviate cramping and provide relief;
- Ensuring you get ample rest and avoid strenuous activities during the initial recovery period can aid in reducing pain and promoting healing;
- Staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can support overall healing and reduce the intensity of pain symptoms;
- A stool softener and laxative may be prescribed by your doctor to help alleviate abdominal pain related to gas and the normal side effects of bowel slow down after being under sedation. This side effect is significantly worse after surgical procedures requiring general anesthesia;
- Attending scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor may be crucial to monitoring your recovery progress. They can evaluate your condition, address any concerns, and provide additional pain management strategies if necessary.
It is normal for patients to experience moderate to severe cramping pain after UFE for 24 to 72 hours. It is also normal to have a low-grade fever for a few days. These symptoms are a result of the changes the fibroids are going through as they shrink and die. With appropriate medications, patients should feel comfortable during recovery.
In some cases, a patient may experience more severe pain after the UFE procedure. It is important to keep open communication with your doctor and contact them according to the directions provided in your aftercare instructions.
Make Sure To Choose An Expert To Perform Your UFE Procedure
You must choose an expert interventional radiologist to perform your uterine fibroid embolization to ensure an optimal outcome, such as Dr. John Lipman from Atlanta Fibroid Center. Dr. Lipman is known for his vast expertise in performing this minimally invasive procedure and has helped thousands of women gain relief from their debilitating fibroid symptoms.
Let Us Help Alleviate Your Fibroid Pain With UFE
The Atlanta Fibroid Center is a medical facility located in Atlanta, Georgia, that specializes in the treatment of uterine fibroids through UFE and provides the highest level of comprehensive care for women with fibroids. Dr. Lipman is one of the leading experts in UFE in the country, and if you are not local to the area, it is well worth traveling to benefit from his expertise. The professional team in his office will be happy to help provide you with information about local accommodations if needed.
Contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center today to learn more about how UFE can help you get rid of fibroids forever and improve your quality of life. You can say goodbye to pain after UFE!