27 answers

I Had My Gallbladder Taken Out and I'm Having Major Pain

A few months ago I had emergency gallbladder surgery and I'm still having major pains. I've had an MRI, catscan, sonograms from a few different specialist and none
of them can figure it out. I've had my blood taken a bunch and all they can say is,
I'm excited to know I'm healthy, BUT something is wrong and I wanted to ask other mom's who has the same thing.
I've met a few moms in the past months who has this, but thought it was normal. It can't be normal.
What happens is, let's say I eat something FRIED, (which I'm not), but there are a few foods that trigger it. Then I start to feel this burning pain in my sturum (mispelling). then it moves all through my lower stomach. My upper back is in major pain and this last from 15 min. to an hour.

I know this is a lot of info. but I know there has to be something out there that can help.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I received a response from another mom and she recommende Alka-Seltzer. I saw that and thought, that prob. wouldn't work.
Until yesterday I started to feel an attack coming on and I was praying I had Alka-Seltzers. I took two and I'm telling you, with in a matter of a couple of minutes, it all went away.
Thanks Erin and everybody for your responses.


Featured Answers

Hi L.,

I am sorry to read about the pain you are suffering. I also had to have my gallbladder removed and the doctor actually told me in advance that I would probably continue to have what they call phantom gall bladder attacks for a time afterwards. It's kind of like when someone looses a limb and yet they still feel pain in that limb even though it doesn't exist. Anyway, I think the only relief is really to know that this WILL pass eventually. You might look up on WebMD to read a bit more about this phenomenom and it might give you more of a time frame. I actually didn't have the attacks afterwards like expected - but what you describe is exactly what I was experiencing before hand with the gallbladder attacks. I hope they go away soon. I found them worse than birth pains!


More Answers

I too suffered the wrath of gall bladder pain. It sounds like your symptoms are a "gall bladder attack". 40% of people who have their gall bladders removed still suffer gall bladder attack symptoms because although you removed the gall bladder full of stones, you didn't remove any stranded stones which had already left the gallbladder and are in the pancreas and liver (I could be wrong on which organs they can get into). So although the main cause is gone they're not all gone, and can still trigger the same symptoms as if you had a sluggish gallbladder. After suffering several painful attacks myself I looked into alt. and homeopathic remedies to avoid surgery. I have had much success with a common gall bladder flush I found online. I've done 3 flushes (ingredients of organic lemon juice, olive oil, and an epsom salt laxative; you can get the exact recipe online)and had results with the second two. Combined if I had to guess I would say I've passed over 100 gallstones. The flushes have been said to help people who have already had surgery and are still suffering the symptoms as well. It changed my life...I would look into it. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear L.:

My mother also had her gallbladder removed and had the same symptoms you have described. She had an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) done a few months after the gallbladder removal, which showed some very small gallstones were left behind.

What we learned is sometimes small gallstones are left behind and that can continue to give symptoms. Ultrasound, et cetera, can miss this.

The ERCP is a day surgery, general anesthetic procedure that is done in under an hour. The doctor can visualize what's going on, even take out any small stones left behind.

L. F., Mom of a 13-year-old, married to my best friend for almost 22 years

Do keep checking to make sure it is not something else but you need to remember that your situation was pretty dire when you got to the hospital. Emergency gallbladder surgery is more complicated than the same in a non-emergent situation just like an appendix is safer to take out, recovery quicker, when it is merely badly inflamed versus perforated or about to rupture.

I contracted pneumonia and was in a coma about 21 months ago and the place where they inserted the drain in my lung, between ribs, probably going through muscle, still hurts on a fairly regular basis, nothing major, but I find myself thinking that it has been so long it shouldn't be hurting. I forget that I nearly died and that apparently takes a lot out of you physically, lol.

Our bodies are very complex organisms and more importantly they function as a system. We are so accustomed to our bodies working properly that when they don't we are confused and angry and because of our culture, expect to pop a pill and instantaneously feel better. While the gallbladder is not essential to survival, it does serve a purpose and you must recognize that without it, your life has and will always be different.

The gallbladder stores bile because the liver does not always produce enough to do the digestive work or it produces more than the individual needs at that moment. As we age in general, these organs function less efficiently which is why I have problems now and need to keep Tagamet handy, when in the past the only time I experienced heartburn was during pregnacy.

Again, keep checking to see if there is an unrelated cause to your current situation but recognize that your body is still recovering from this trauma and it is just going to take time. Also, keep a diary of the things you eat and what gives you the most trouble. These are things that you may never really be able to eat again or that you know, if you like them, you are eating at your own risk so-to-speak. If you are going to eat something that will aggravate your system, you can take a product like Tagamet before you eat and that may help to reduce the effects.

At the whopping age of 44, I can no longer eat sweet corn without my stomach going whacko, and lettuce is quickly catching up in terms of the ability to make me horribly ill. Our bodies change over time and we can either roll with the changes, avoiding the things that seem to aggravate our system, or ignoring them and literally suffering with the consequences.

Try to focus on what you can do instead of lamenting the things you are going to have to change; the latter is going to happen anyway and you can either do it gracefully or fighting the inevitable. In addition to the lingering effects of my situation I also have arthritis in my back, scoliosis, and allergies and asthma to contend with. When I get down, I remember that I have no truly debilitating disease that threatens my mobility or other quality of life issues and alive is certainly a heck of a lot better than not being here to raise my children.

Hello L.,

I'm sorry to hear you're in so much pain. Have you ever tried taking complete enzymes at meal time? that may help your GI track to digest the foods better and not have so much pain. here is a link (for information only - if you decide to buy it, you can get it at sprouts, wholefoods, flower mound pharmacy, etc) to NOW super enzymes:

(By the way, Sorry I might sound like an advertisement I don't sell it) I've used it and friends w/ GI track issues use it and are having very good results.

Good luck! ~C.~

Hi L.!

I am sooo sorry that you are going through this! My son had his gall bladder taken out as well and he suffers the same symptoms! All we were told by the Drs were that the pain was a combination of gas and scar tissue, especially around the area where the gall bladder used to be. Like you, certain foods seem to trigger it as well. It definitely will be interesting to find out what everyone here says!

Here's to feeling better! :)

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The first year after mine was taken out was the worst. Lettuce was horrible, corn, fruit and of course fatty foods. Nausea, cramping, close to passing out, and restroom for 30min. while things pass. Your body can't regulate the bile dump well without the gallbladder doing its job. There is a powder that can be taken to help, your interologist should be able to prescribe something. Over the past years it has gotten better, but I definately recognize there are still triggers just not as often or as long lasting.

Also, I was having pain not associated with eating, but with my cycle or intercourse, and I wasn't getting pregnant. So they did exploratory surgery thinking it was endometryosis. Found out that it was adhesions (scar tissue) from the surgery that was fusing my bladder and uterus.

I would definately be speaking with a specialist, who has had many gallbladder patients that will know where to go with your pain.

Hello L.,

I can't say I been there or have any problems that relate to what you went through BUT, I can say I know my mother had her removed. Now I when I tell you her story I don't want you to get freaked out cause this maybe a long shot. You may not even be close to what happen to her. In 95 my mother went in for the same surgery you had. She was in post term surgery afterwards for an hour (I think she should have been there longer, what they call recovery) anyhow they released her to go home an hour later. I watched her mope around for two weeks and then she went back to the doctor and they told her she had what they call walking pneumonia. They gave her medication for it which I believe it didn't do a bit of good; cause she would walk around with a pillow on her chest and one on her back to comfort the pain they TOLD her she would have. Well I have to say she is no longer in any pain cause 6 weeks after her surgery she passed away from a blood clot that was from her surgery. They treated her for phenomena instead of a lodged blood clot. I can't say she would be here today if things were different but, I would insist that your doctor check for a clot if they haven't yet. Good luck


I, too, had my gallbladder removed and I have nothing but trouble with my stomach since. I have had every kind of test there is and my GI doctor finally said that it is probably a stone or stones in the ducting from the gallbladder to the stomach. He told me the only way to find out is to go back in to see if there are stones there. There is no test that can tell you if there are stones there or not according to him. Never had acid relux before but I have it "big time" now and also IBS. I was not told anything about anything except that I needed my gallbladder out. I have had to learn everything by the "school of hard knocks"!!! My daughter-in-law had to have her gallbladder removed three weeks before her wedding (11 years ago) and she still has major problems. I hope that you soon discover what might be causing your pain.

It is very unfortunate that they took out your gallbladder. Many, many continue to experience pain once the gallbladder is removed---because it was not the source of the problem. There is a LOT of excellent information about natural gallbladder treatments online.

This is one:

I have used Chinese Gold Coin Grass for over 10 years and it works wonderfully. Please do some research about the best methods for you. Since I have not had surgery, what I use may not be applicable for you, but there are many alternatives.

I hope you feel better soon---the pain is awful.

Usually when a patient with your history and symptoms comes to the ER, you would be diagnosed with a retained gall stone. Usually this shows up on a CT scan or US. When were the last tests done? Other option is a peptic ulcer. Have you had an upper undoscopy done?

Dear L.,

I had my gallbladder removed when I was 21 after the birth of my 2nd daughter. Weeks later I still had excrutiating pain. They kept telling me there was nothing wrong each time I went to the E.R. One night I got really sick. This time at the E.R. they found out that I had a stone caught in my common bile duct and it caused me to have severe pancreatitis. I was hospitalized for a week. After that I have had no trouble. Once in a while I will get a sharp pain for a few seconds and it goes away. That rarely happens. You are right---there has to be something. Listen to the signs of your body. Maybe you should get a 2nd opinion from a different doctor. I would keep a journal so you will know what foods trigger the pain. You may have to avoid those for a while. I will be praying for you to recover to your fullest.

Hi L.,

I am sorry to read about the pain you are suffering. I also had to have my gallbladder removed and the doctor actually told me in advance that I would probably continue to have what they call phantom gall bladder attacks for a time afterwards. It's kind of like when someone looses a limb and yet they still feel pain in that limb even though it doesn't exist. Anyway, I think the only relief is really to know that this WILL pass eventually. You might look up on WebMD to read a bit more about this phenomenom and it might give you more of a time frame. I actually didn't have the attacks afterwards like expected - but what you describe is exactly what I was experiencing before hand with the gallbladder attacks. I hope they go away soon. I found them worse than birth pains!


Sounds like you have billiary colic. It's very common after have your gallbladder removed. I have had it off and on since my surgery in 2002. You are right, it is very painful. Other than being very careful about what you eat, such as fried, greasy and high fat foods, there isn't a lot you yourself can do. I would highly suggest asking your GI doc for something like Bentyl which I take and does help. Best of luck to you!

It was interesting to read all your responses because I too had my gallbladder removed after 8 years of hurting (my heart attack feelings). I was so excited to have it done and hoped it would relieve my hurts. Well, like you and others, I would still have attacks but not as bad....but enough that it would zap the energy out of you. I found I could not eat corn, lettuce, or any other uncooked green vegetable. (green onions, etc.) I had this surgery 3 years ago this Thanksgiving. Well, I have been on Zegarid since March, doctor prescribed, and I have just re-introduced lettuce into my diet and I CAN EAT IT!!!! I am so thrilled because I am a sald eater. I still will have little attacks but I am just careful of what I eat and always carry Maalox or Gas-X. THe attacks are coming further and further apart so hopefully I am on the mend. I am so sorry you are experincing this but it helped me reading your responses and knowing I was not making any of my attacks up. Doctors would just shake their heads when I would tell them I still had symptoms. So far the Zegarid has helped. I started out taking two a day but am now down to one a day. Also, I suffer from IBS so I feel that is a problem helping cause the attacks, also. Good luck - I feel your pain... I hope you find relief soon or at least some control over it. God Bless You.... D.

go to another stomach doctor...

If you are having burning I would try taking meds for Acid reflux. There are some OTC you could try before going to the doc.

Good Luck

Hi L.!

I hate to hear about your pain! I would not wish the pain from a gall bladder attack on my worst enemy!! I had my first attack when I was about 7 months pregnant but had no idea what it was until I had another one about 2 weeks after my little angel was born (which was just this past June). My stomach seemed to be upset almost every day for the next two weeks. Then I had another SEVERE attack and thought I was going to die. Since my sister had to have her gall bladder out about 2 months after my niece was born, and since my husband is an RN, we figure that was my problem.

The next day we went to talk to the surgeon and had my gall bladder taken out that day, one month to the day after giving birth. The surgeon was FABULOUS and explained alot to me before I had the surgery. When I was in recovery he told my husband that my gall bladder was FULL of stones and "slug". He said he tried to clean it out as best he could, but the "slug" just kept coming. With the equipement they use to take the gall bladder out, they don't have the capability to actually go into the duct to make sure all stones are removed.

Within about 3 to 4 days, I was jaundiced and still couldn't eat much. I got to the point that I was only drinking chicken broth, but was still having atleast one, often more, attacks every day. My surgeon's nurse called to check on me and we let her know that I was jaundiced and hurting. My surgeon said he was afraid that would happen. He made a call to a GI specialist and got me in that next Tuesday for an ERCP.

For about 9 days after I had my first surgery, I was still in SO MUCH PAIN. I had made the comment that I thought you were suppose to feel better after you had the gall bladder taken out!

I was having another attack when I went in for the ERCP, but I was out for the ERCP and once I woke up, I felt SO MUCH BETTER!! With the ERCP they found a "medium sized" stone that was stuck in my bile duct, and removed it. The doctor told me that the estrogen in women during pregnancy just "reeks havock" on our body.

I still have problems with lettuce, as it seems so many people do after having the gall bladder removed. But I can deal with that so much better than the pain I had with the attacks!

I would suggest you go see another GI specialist and talk to someone about an ERCP. If you want the name of the one I went to I would be glad to share. Good luck!!

My grandfather had his galbladder removed in August, just 4-5 months after having 4-bypass heart surgery. He said the galbladder surgery was far worse than the heart surgery. Because of some of the meds he was on after that surgery, he had a hard time eating and keeping anything down. He also had really bad reflux and heartburn after the surgery. They changed the meds, and after more time of recovering, he's finally able to eat normally now. If I were you, I would stay persistant. What you're feeling doesn't sound normal, and it seems like there's still something wrong. If you're still on meds, see if they are causing it. If not, find out what else it might be from the drs. Get a 2nd opinion if needed. I hope you get to feeling better soon!

I had my gallbladder taken out about 11yrs ago. I started having pain but my doctors figured out it was acid reflux. I was given meds and it helped. Have your doctors tried that? On a seperate note I noticed you mentioned you and your spouse work from home. I am currently looking to try something to make extra cash from home. Do you think you can help. Let me know . please. Thank you.email me info @ ____@____.com

Call me crazy, but try Alka-Seltzer. I get pain like that, and it is gas buildup in my stomach - which in turn pushes on all sorts of nerves causing pain all over the place! The Alka-Seltzer does the trick.

Even if you think this is wacky, try it. It is a really cheap alternative to going to doctors to find the source of the pain!


I had the same problem! I had my gallbladder taken out almost 15 years ago after I had my first child. They removed my gallbladder and several days later I was back in the emergency room just a few days later because they left a stone in the duct. I continued to have problems with pain in my chest / back area for months. I went back to my gastro-enterologist and after several tests they decided to do a scope down my throat and take a look. My problem was the sphincter (sp) that opens and closes releasing the bile was not functioning properly. When they were in there with the scope they had to laser the sphincter so it would stay open all the time. The spasms from the sphincter mimmicked a gallbladder attack and the pains were just as intense. Once they lasered that open I have not had the spasms anymore. It was not a fun procedure. Back then they kept me partially awake and it was very uncomfortable, but it did get rid of the pain.

There is a downside.... The side effects that everyone else listed about certain foods bothering them & some foods will go right thru you. It has been 15 years and I still have problems with a lot of foods.

Back when I had mine done the only place in the Dallas area that had the equipment to do the procedure was at Southwest Med Center in Dallas. I cannot remember the doctors name.

I would discuss this possibility with your doctor or find another one that is willing to listen.

Good Luck!

I, too , had my gallbladder removed about 9 years ago. The stones turned out to be really small & probably weren't even causing me any problems. I can't tell you how many times I've been back to the ER since then with the same awful pain. I've even called 911 & took an ambulance thinking it was a heart attack. All I heard over & over was it's phantom pain because they couldn't find any stones in the common bile duct. I've even seen several GI docs who couldn't find anything & suggested it was phantom pain.They were wrong! I finally got a referral to a doctor at Baylor in Dallas who did an ERCP & found that my pancreatic sphincter was dysfunctional. He was able to repair it with a stent that was removed a couple of weeks later. This was in Jan. of '07 & I haven't experienced "The Pain" since then, no matter what I eat. His name is Steven Burdick & this is his speciality. His # is ###-###-####. I was referred by a great GI doctor in McKinney, Rajesh Putcha. Please have this checked out. You don't have to keep suffering & being treated like you're stupid or crazy because this Pain is real & can be fixed!

Good Luck!!!!

L., I completely understand how you feel. I had my GB removed 2 years ago and still have pain occassionally. I have also had numerous tests, blood work, etc. with all results normal. I even had a doc tell me I was depressed!
I have searched tons of websites and have found that this is a common problem many of us suffer with after GB removal. My surgeon told me he wished someone would do a study, about this problem, but no one has yet. So, after 2 years, what I can tell you is this, it does get better, but doesn't go away completely. Sometimes I can link an "attack" to food but sometimes there seems to be no reason at all. I even had an attack after hanging curtains one day. For me, I can eat something greasy or fried as long as I don't do it 2 days or 2 meals in a row. Example I can't eat pizza on Friday and then a burger on Saturday or it's trouble. I have also learned that there isn't much the docs can/will do for you unless you are experiencing lots of vomiting and/or losing weight. You can e-mail me if you want to talk more. Hang-in there.

Oh how I remember the pain!!!
Ok, first- could be an ulcer. (I was told this then) journal what you eat and symptoms.
Second- after the journaling, if still issues, you might need an upper GI.
Back area is the kidney pain usually.
No expert- but I have been there! Worse than childbirth.
Good luck.

I would see another gi specialist for a second opinion. Have you had an egd? (scope to look at your stomach). It does take some time for your body to adjust to not having a gallbladder, but it should improve, not get worse. good luck!

I still have my Gallbladder, but it was almost taken out in Oct 2007. At that time, I started to research what it would mean. My understand is a key function of the gallbladder is aid in digestion of fatty foods. Thus, I would think if you are having pain after eating fatty foods, the problem is that your body is having difficulties breaking those down. Maybe you need to adjust what you are eating.

The other thing it could be is an ulcer. After various tests on me, they figured out it was not my gallbladder, but an ulcer causing all the pain.

Not sure about the pain aspect, but do keep in mind that the gall bladder, which is attached to your liver (which is your major filter and detox unit), holds bile. Bile is a greenish-yellow liquid that assists in digesting fats. If you have the gall bladder removed, it would stand to reason that you must also be much more choosy in what fats you do take in, both the amount and the type, as you no longer have that major tool with which to digest them. Clearly fried foods should be off the list. Surely healthy fats would be okay, but in small quantities. When my best friend had to have her gall bladder removed due to gall stones, her doctor never gave her ANY information about changing her diet, no presumption that losing your GB might affect how you process food, so no counseling on food management at all. The modern medical model doesn't take into account that our foods, our nutrition, have anything to do with what goes on inside and outside our bodies. Strange, that.

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