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Lingering Pain In My Back After Pneumonectomy


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Hello again. I had a left pneumonectomy in 6/03. I am doing fine according to my doctors. I have been having pain in my back and under my breast for several weeks now. My breast gets num like when you get a tooth pulled. My main pain is in my back area. I did have chemo and rad together. The back hurts about 1 hour after I eat or drink a soda. A lot of times, like at night, if I put pressure on my back like turning over, I get the pain and have to get up and take pressure off till it stops. This also happens when I am sitting in recliner with my back against the back of recliner. I have mentioned this to my Oncologist and he didn't seem to be concerned about it. Well I am and it is getting to annoy me. I have another appt 1/17/04 to see him but am considering going to ER before long. By the way I can take a drink of milk of magnesia and it goes away shortly but returnes a while later. Has anyone else experianced this or is it me? Thanks for any input you might have. Hoping that everyone has a Merry Christmas.


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You are not alonein having lingering pain or discomfort. I had two thorocotmies and both time, for about 3 months following surgery, I had difficulty lying on my back, especially the right side. I still have numbness in the upper part of my right abdomen. The surgeon explained that possibility before the surgery, as there are many nerves, which run through and along the ribs. It is next to impossible to perform this type of surgery without causing some periferal nerve damage. It's some choice we have, isn't it. The cancer either overtakes our lungs, or, if surgery is possible, we have to experience discomfort for years following the surgery.

Besides removing the tumor, the surgery did improve my golf game, it cured my slice. :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

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Can't help you with the back hurting after you eat or drink...not sure what that could be.

I am still numb kind of and believe it or not, still cannot lay on my right side when I sleep because the pressure causes me pain and discomfort the next day. I have to wear loose articles of clothing because any type of restriction or anything pressing on my back, side or front for any length of time causes actual pain and more discomfort.

Do you also have a Pulmonary Specialist? Maybe you can talk to him/her and get their take on what you are feeling. Can't hurt and can only reassure you....

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Hi. I had surgery in June of 2001 and still have quite a bit of discomfort on and around the site. It's not the same as what you are describing though. I talked to my Oncologist about it and she said it will probably be painful for the rest of my life. The pain and discomfort come and go and sometimes worse than other times. It seems like the pain you are having is different and I would guess should be checked out by another type of doctor. Can't hurt anyway.

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I had some ongoing back pain (like a muscle pain or high stress) and pain on my abdomen under my rib cage. My oncologist told me the pain on the front side was simply my liver and it would eventually cease....and every time I complained of it, he told me the same thing...

In October, I had my yearly "female" exam, a time when I get 45 minutes of uninterupted time with my primary care physician to discuss issues of the past year and health concerns. I told her of the pain in the belly and the back pain and she started poking around to find the "exact spot" of pain (wasn't fun, believe me). She then told me it COULD be my gall bladder and sent me for an ultrasound (to look for gall stones) and a gall bladder function test to see if the darn thing was even working (nope).

Forward to last week, I had my gall bladder removed. Back pain? Haven't been feeling it - and it seems my "tummy issues" are resolved (but I'm still healing and feel like I was kicked by a plow horse).

I guess sometimes the aches and pains are NOT attributable to cancer...go figure! I find it better in my case to discuss issues with my primary doctor and then if she feels it's cancer related, take it up with my oncologist.

Take care,


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I experienced lots of pain under my breast which I couldn't understand since they went in from the back to do the left pneunonectomy and my doctors said it was nerve damage from the surgery.My surgery was 12/02 and that pain is gone now but I still can't sleep on the left side- it feels like everything in there is moving around and getting mashed. Since the surgery I also have what we describe as a gurgling sound in my chest. I hear it lots and other people do at times. It isn't my stomach growling. Also have more indigestion. So you aren't alone if that is any help. I couldn't lay flat in the bed but unlike you could sleep in the recliner, Might not hurt to see another doc. if you aren't satisfied.

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Hi there Luv,

I, too, have had back pain and assorted numbness. Drs thought my back pain was Post Thoracic Pain Syndrome. But it wasn't. It progressed and got worse and worse. It was from spinal probs. But the pain was never located on the spine. It was behind my scapula. Go figure.

Here's a legal quote: "Failure to diagnose spinal cord compression: Any patient known to have a malignancy with new-onset back pain should begin IMMEDIATE evaluation and treatment for spinal cord compression. SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION IS AN ONCLOGIC EMERGENCY."

Don't mean to scare you, but I came so close to dying and suffered so needlessly, I wouldn't want anyone to have to go thru what happened to me.

BTW. An MRI picked it up. Numerous CT scans did not!


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Hey all,

I am still numb over considerable areas on my right breast and shoulder.

I still cannot sleep on my left side.

The radical nature /degree of my surgery (I had my collarbone removed as well) caused muscles and such, healing, to pull on my spine, so I have worsening (slowly) scoliosis.

Without 3 different pain meds I can't get up in the am. and function, hold a job, keep a home, cook dinner, shop, drive.

BUT .... it's worth it. I'm still here. Unlikely this mess will clear up this side of heaven, but that's okay.

Can't pretend it just didn't happen.

After a while, I have kind of quit noticing it all. I just don't sleep on my left side.

Just the cost of 'doing business'.

I thank God for the privilege.

I hope those of you with lesser surgeries are truly okay with a little numbness. Time frame to clear up healing is in months to a couple years, not weeks to months.

At this point, I know I am not going to improve anymore, but IT DID improve for over 2 years. Do not despair. And don't be afraid to ask for pain meds. Vioxx is good stuff.

Life on this side of diagnosis/treatment takes some getting used to, but other than this board, I go weeks without remembering I have cancer.

I am NED now, but I remember to thank the good Lord every day I put both feet on the floor and get up in the morning.

Did I mention I am grateful too to have found this great bunch of people to share this roller coaster ordeal with?

I love you all.



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Mary Ann you have scoliosis too! We have too much in common! After I had treatment and the pancoast tumor removed, I had a lot of back pain and numbness running around to the front. As has been discussed prior, I hate bras now. Some of the pain was because I developed " trigger points" in the muscle over my scapula. Finally I got sent to a doctor that specialized in back pain. He diagnosed the trigger points, and boy was he and his physical therapists really good at finding them. "Here is one. " and I would answer " Yikes, yes" they had to inject many of them , they are kind of like painful lumps in the muscle. The 2 ribs they broke to do the surgery never healed back either so once in a while they get out of whack, and must pinch the muscle back there. It happened just a couple of weeks ago and scared me to death. One night I rolled over heard a crack and a pop and immediately it was feeling better and by the next day I was OK. As others have mentioned , for me it has now been 6 yrs since I started this journey, I am cancer free, so this is the most important thing. Donna G

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