My 86 year old mother was recently diagnosed with a hernia. She is in constant pain but they refuse to do surgery. What can we do?


She has been in the hospital twice in two weeks due to severe pain and even vomiting. Each time the surgeon "pushes it back in" and sends her on her way. They are refusing to do surgery but won't give us any real reason. She is in pain on a daily basis, and now is afraid to go outside the house or do anything. They also won't give her anything more than Tylenol to manage the pain. Can we force them to do surgery? Other than this hernia, she is in fairly good heart problems or anything. They want her to wear a truss, which she has tried but it is too uncomfortable for her and is a problem when she has to go to the bathroom. Are there any other options besides living with the pain and doing nothing? Why are they refusing surgery? What can we do to resolve this situation? It is so hard seeing her in constant pain, but it's also hard on my brother and his family who she is living with because she keeps them up at night moaning and groaning in pain, and they are worried about ever leaving her alone even for a short time. We need a solution other than to do nothing about it. Help!

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No question about the second even third opinion.
What do they propose to do if it strangulates and she is in worse pain than now? That would be a horrible death for her and take probably a couple of days.
If the worse should happen get Hopsice in at once and allow them to give her the infamous drugs even though she will probably loose consciousness and die . It is the only way to relieve the pain and vomiting.
I agree that her liver is the reason they don't want to anesthetise Mom but it may be possible to use a spinal anesthetic for a hernia but in the end it is her choice if she wants to take the risk. Living in pain is not an option. If they feel she is terminal at this time and the pain is from her gut dying then they should come out and say so and allow you to persue other options.
So sorry the medical profession has let Mom and the family down in this way. Just because she is old does not mean she does not deserve the best care so tell brother to get on his high horse and advocate for Mom in a very loud voice. Let us know how this goes.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Veronica91

I think a second opinion is in order, as well as a thorough explanation of why they can't do surgery and what pain relief is available.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Second opinion needed!

The truss will hold the hernia in, but yes, they are a pain to work with. At 86? I couldn't work one at 57 when I had tummy tuck.

Likely due to her age, the anesthesia would be of concern--but if she's in pain all day, every day-and her dr allows that--that's criminal!

The "opioid epidemic" scare has swung waaaay too far out of control. As someone with chronic pain, and can't take Ibuprofen, I have to take a very low dose opioid daily. I have to see my dr every 6 months and it honestly just makes it so I can get up and move. My neighborhood 'drug dealer' is making money hand over fist, since so many people cannot get anything for pain. (and I am positive a few are abusing it, of course).....

If surgery is simply not an option, then all you can do is deal with the pain--there are pain clinics that simply do pain control. At 86, your mom should not have to live in severe pain around the clock.

The liver issues could be a part of the decision to not do the surgery. You really need to see a different Dr.
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Reply to Midkid58

BarbBrooklyn, yes she is living with brother now but he still keeps me up to date on what is going on with her. He is very frustrated, as I would be, so I'm just trying to help him. When I visited over Christmas, I saw first-hand the pain she was in, although at the time we thought it was from her liver scerosis. They now believe that pain was misdiagnosed and was actually related to this hernia, which has gotten worse and the pain more severe. The liver scerosis is "mild" and she has had it for years NOT due to drinking....just age. I have suggested to brother that he get a second opinion, too, but just wondered if there were other options also.
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Reply to Hulacat13

Get a second opinion, leaving someone is excruciating pain is criminal. These Drs so worried about themselves, forget to treat patients with dignity and care. Aarrrhh, best of luck finding a good, knowledgeable, caring surgeon.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal

I agree with a second opinion.
I'm guessing they are refusing to do surgery due to her age. They don't want to be responsible if something happened during surgery.

God knows, nobody gets narcotics anymore, what with the narcotic epidemic. The doctors are freaked out that they'll be sued for turning their patient into a junkie. Tramadol, a non narcotic pain pill, seems to help some. Again, I think they would be scared to prescribe it due to her age and the risk of falling if she became woozy from the med.

You didn't mention where the hernia is but could she use an abdominal binder for more support if it's an umbilical hernia?

Good luck to your mom in finding a pain relieving solution.
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Reply to SueC1957

Hula, isn't your mom living with your brother now?

Why are you getting dragged into this?

Are you getting this information from mom, brother or from the doctors themselves?
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I agree with getting a second opinion.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Eyerishlass

I would take her to another surgeon for a second opinion. If she is in good health it would seem that she could tolerate a hernia repair. She shouldn’t have to live in pain.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to akdaughter