Jump to content
tolafson

lobectomy pain

Recommended Posts

I had my URL removed (along with the lymphnodes in my chest) 3weeks ago and am still having quite a bit of pain in my pectoral area - in other words, my boob is killing me! Has anyone else experienced this, and how long did it take to ease up? This part of the pain started a week ago and has changed at all since.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After 3 weeks you should feel a little less pain not more. I would contact my doctor if I were you. I still had pain at 3 weeks but less not more. The doctor gave me pain medication but it made me loopy so I took the over the counter Alleve instead. Hope you will be feeling better soon.

Carol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tami,

I would talk to my doctor if the pain intensified. I started to get acid reflux a few weeks in, if I remember right. Had to start taking an antacid to get through the day, since it didn't matter what I ate, I still had the burn...

If memory serves me, that pain in the boob will continue for sometime. Since I was pretty much a couch potato after surgery and couldn't wear a bra, I rolled up a towel and made a "shelf" for the girls so the weight of those nice eye-catchers didn't pull on the skin and muscle. It worked pretty well, and was my mother's suggestion. When my pain subsided some and I need to figure out how to join the real world, at the suggestion of a friend who had just had her breasts reduced, I bought a mastectomy bra. No underwires, just a gentle hold. I worked back up to underwires after a couple of years, but still have pain occasionally in the ribcage and have to strip that sucker off as soon as I get home.

Welcome to the new normal. It's all about figuring out how to cope and remembering to be thankful you're here to complain. I tell people I'm not happy to be uncomfortable, but I am happy for the opportunity to feel, since pain means I'm not dead.

Take care,

Becky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi again, Tami. A couple of questions:

First, what sort of surgery procedure did you have, in terms of the access route — a scope procedure (VATS or thoracoscopy) using a 2 or 3 small incisions for the scope and the surgical instruments, or a thoracotomy which involves a long incision and usually spreading the ribs or even removing one? If the latter, I wouldn't be surprised that you're still having pain, much of it due to the cutting of nerves which can refer the pain to a point some distance from the actual incision. I had a thoracotomy with a 7-inch incision (I hear that's relatively short) on my right side. The incision itself healed quickly and bothered me very little unless I made a twisting motion the first couple of months, but the front of my chest on that side, starting just under my right nipple and extending down to the lower rib, was (and still is to some degree) a strange combination of numb and touchy. For the first year I would have an occasional stab in that area for no apparent reason, but most of the time it was not bothersome unless I touched it or there was some sort of pressure like a shoulder belt. Now, after 3 years, the only time it gets my attention is when I pass a washcloth over that area in the shower.

Another question would be when does it hurt — pretty much all the time even if you're not moving (including a throbbing pain which interferes with sleep), or just if you're moving in a certain way? If it's the first, your oncologist or surgeon needs to know about it. If it's the second, I'd say that's pretty normal, and it should gradually improve. One way to check that would be in your exercise routine to make note of how far you can move in a certain direction before the discomfort starts. Stop there or maybe just a little past the pain threshold. After a week or so you will most likely notice that you can move a bit farther before it starts to twinge, and that will be a welcome sign that things are improving.

Are you still on any of the heavy-duty pain meds? After the first several days, some of us (myself included) have found that drugs like percoset and vicodin can start to make a person feel really junk in a variety of ways without doing anything more for the pain than something like over-the-counter ibuprofen. Just a thought, which may or may not apply to you.

Best wishes and Aloha,

Ned

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With mine, my boob hurt for eternity. And what didn't hurt, was numb. I think I'm still numb in spots. I couldn't sleep on my right side for 6 months, and couldn't wear a bra for 6 months, I wore layers of clothes to work. Then I got a sports bra, 2 sizes too big and then a regular bra 2 sizes too big, then grandma bras my size and now FINALLY 6 years after the fact, I just bought a NORMAL, NICE bra from VS with underwire. I just can HEAR the angels singing...

But I digress...

You may be feeling more pain now because the shock and numbness to the nerves are wearing off but I agree with Carol, a call to the doctor can't hurt matters... Hang in there, it will get better, I promise!!

And Snowflake, "eye catchers"? You crack me up girl!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your advice. It sounds like I may just be jumping the gun. I don't think I felt the pain my first 2 weeks because I hurt so bad all over. Now, that is pretty much the only constant pain I have (moving or not). Heat definitely helps, but I am not in a position to exercise yet. I am still in bed most of the day.

I am really disappointed to hear that most people were and are in pain a year later?! My dr said that was possible, but I didn't think that was the norm. He told me 4-6 weeks before I'd be feeling good, so that's what I was banking on. (I actually thought, 'Oh, I'm young and healthy! I'll be fine in 2 or 3 weeks." So much for that...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tami,

I was not in constant pain for a year, just had some pains that would make themselves known. The bra on the ribcage was the biggest recurring pain - no bra, no pain, just some discomfort. I'm betting your doctor is a man and wouldn't understand that even without a thoracotomy, a bra is uncomfortable at times...

You will come to realize there is now a "new normal" - things will not be the same as they were, but you should work on accepting that. Not everything is worse, and the pains do ease gradually. Once I figured out that throughout the three hour surgery, my right arm was extended up and over my head, I understood why my shoulder hurt so much at the top of the joint when the cut on my back wasn't so bad.

I PROMISE, it will get better. I PROMISE, you will get back into life, but you will merge in slowly and then build up speed. I PROMISE you will reach a point where you will live "it is what it is" and accept more things in life that prior to all this crap may have set you off. If you work on the acceptance, the rest of it is easier to deal with.

Take care, we're all pulling for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hang in there, Tami. It will get better. It really hit me as strange that my chest hurt worse than where the incision was, but I think it's just one of those things that happens when nerves get severed.

Exercise seemed to help me a lot. Riding my bike helped, I think any aerobic exercise does, but when I got back to doing my core muscle exercises six weeks after surgery, and was actually exercising the muscles where the pain was, that helped more.

I think the first few weeks are really tough on just about everyone who has the surgery. Hang in there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will do my best to hang in there. I am also determined to start exercising and moving around more. I am not able to walk around for more than about 10 minutes though, and then I weeze. It doesn't hurt though, so I should probably work through it.

I am meeting with my surgeon tomorrow, so I will ask him about everything. I call my surgeon "Dr. Doom". He is the best surgeon at my hospital, with the worst bed side manner. When he told me that he thought I had cancer, I cried, and he responded with, "Well, Tami, we all die someday." Won't he be sorry when I outlive him? :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your post made me realize that my boob doesn't hurt anymore! Not my ribcage either. But I am sticking to my old soft bras instead of the good underwire ones that make clothes look better. I've tried off and on and they make me really sore.

So, how long did it take? I didn't try bras often for most of 6 months. Then, I started exercising and thought it would be better to contain. There are days my back still fatigues, tweaks along the incision area, small aches, but overall, 11 months out, surgery side effects are low on my list of complaints.

Good luck, get exercise as you feel up to it, movement in general is good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tami,

Seeing that you also live in Michigan, I suggest that you exercise inside over the winter, as the cold air and less than two lungs don't mix very well. I still have problems with severe cold air, and I'm six years out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It took years and years to get feeling back where I had the surgery--bras were a complete agony!! It really is uncomfortable --but they cut nerves there and now the nerves are healing and yelling about being cut!!!

acid reflex (which all surgeons deny happens with this surgery but seems to happen to everyone) was bad)

I used to wake up in the middle of the night with such pain in my chest, I thought I was going to die--but all part of the healing process!

good luck to you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I cannot comment on pain from wearing a bra, but I understand the pain from a lobectomy. I had my upper left lobe removed by Vats. So they cut the main muscle in my chest and also cracked 2 ribs. Two years later I still find the chest muscle but more so the ribs. I asked my Oncologist about it and he said I may find some discomfort for awhile. It is getting less and less as time goes on. Now the ribs only hurt if I am doing something to irritate them. Personally, given the circumstances, I can live with an occasional pain in the ribs. But everyone heals differently and you may not find an ache after a couple more weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Bruce,

Not to sidetrack this, but I though VATS kept them from cracking ribs! Maybe I got off easy that they opened me after all. I think surgery was the easiest of the three treatments, but it was also first for me. And I've had enough surgery in my life to know what works for pain control for me. Chemo and radiation were untried territories, full of surprise. I can do without all these surprises, you know?

Back to regularly scheduled programming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a RML taken out via VATS in June and a LUL taken out in August. So two months into recovery they did it to me again. As I recall I was just about feeling human at two months in. Meaning I could deal with the numbness and the shooting pain of the nerves had slowed to once in a while. Now I am about two months out from my second VATS this one on the left side and it seems like I thought I was getting better and now I am experiencing some nerve pain and numbness. Nothing that isn't "tolerable" with just tylonol though so it does get better. It has to get better. I am wearing "all" clothes but still enjoy the after work rush to get into less clothes because some things are pretty binding. I absolutely loved the "towel" becuase that is what I used too. It does get better - or so I'm told.

Annette

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/15/2009 at 12:52 PM, tolafson said:

Thank you all for your advice. It sounds like I may just be jumping the gun. I don't think I felt the pain my first 2 weeks because I hurt so bad all over. Now, that is pretty much the only constant pain I have (moving or not). Heat definitely helps, but I am not in a position to exercise yet. I am still in bed most of the day.

I am really disappointed to hear that most people were and are in pain a year later?! My dr said that was possible, but I didn't think that was the norm. He told me 4-6 weeks before I'd be feeling good, so that's what I was banking on. (I actually thought, 'Oh, I'm young and healthy! I'll be fine in 2 or 3 weeks." So much for that...)

I had an open lobectomy 3 weeks ago. I too have pain in and around  right breast, also numbness yet tingling. Dr said.it is nerve pain and will go away. Lidocaine cream helps some. Its miserable. I wish i had a better answer but thats  all i know. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear post surgery friends,

I join you all with the stabbing pains and burning sensation and numbness that comes from this Lung surgery.  It just been 3 and half weeks since I had a mass removed from my left lung and 20% of the lung plus swelling was removed.  Praise God the mass wasn't cancer though the Pet Scan had an uptake of 15.  I went to surgery thinking it was cancer.  But they did find a carcinoid attached encapsulated.  Good it was out!  No need for further treatment.  The pain has been very intense, because of the nerves that were cut.  The Dr. changed my pain medications to Lyrica 25 mg which deals with nerve pain a week ago.  He told me to check with him in a couple of weeks to see if I needed a bigger dosage.  Just one capsule at night.  It has in a way "dull" the stabbing pain.  I was taking Advil along with all the pain meds, but I had switched to Homeopathic meds.  It has somewhat tamed the pain, although I have my moments.  Its called ""Hypericum Perforatum 200 ck. It comes in tiny pearls that you dissolve under your tongue.  These are specifically addressing the pain from nerves damaged.  I bought it on Amazon.  I take 5 little pills 1/2 hour before I take the Lyrica and again after midnight when I awake due to pain or having to go to the bathroom.. I also take them like every 5 hours during the day.  I just don't let the pain get out of control.  I was afraid to continue with Advil and my stomach.  Im still dealing with burning and just pain in the incision and all around my breast area on the left side.  Nothing seems to totally remove the pain.  But Im thankful that the "stabbing pains" has dulled.  No bra is the new norm, I managed to wear a loose soft tank top under my shirts and I pinned a hand-wash towel under it on each side to cover my bouncing movements.  And I wear like a nice shawl that covers most of the front.  I read how some of you are still in a lot of pain even after a year, oh boy, this has been so trying and painful, though I have had other surgeries where I recovered completely in about 6-8 weeks.  I cannot imagined what it would be like to have more of the lung removed!  I pray for relief and much patience!  My heart goes out to all of you suffering from this condition!  The Lord have mercy of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ana and welcome, i'm sorry that you're having a hard time  with pain. I was fortunate that the pain I had with my lobectomy mostly went away when I got my chest tube out in 10 days. Unfortunately some, like you, are not so lucky.  I've used some homeopathics in the past for other things, but don't have any opinion about this for nerve pain.  Glad they're working for you.

Bridget O

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Morning Ana M! I can really relate to your pain. My lobectomy was on 9/14.  My doctor said this is normal due to the nerves being cut, but to doesn't make it any better. I am on Gabapentin for my nerve pain 2 300mg caps 3xdaily. I am a large busted woman and the extra weight on my chest can be very uncomfortable. I do wear a very stretchy bra for a little support & it does help. A few years my PCP asked if I'd ever consider a reduction; these days I'm wishing I had.    I feel your pain

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ana.  Tomorrow I will celebrate my 4 week post-op anniversary.  I had an upper left lobectomy.  VATS procedure, 2 small incisions (1 inch) 1 larger 5-inch incision under my arm.  

I share your breast pain.  I am so sorry you are having it, but so relieved to read all the other who had it as well.  I was very discouraged until about 3 days ago.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still feeling pain, but I just made myself get up and get dressed and go out.  Tje next day I pushed a little harder.  The next day sucked!  I was exhausted!  But, today was actually a little productive.  I felt like I had a little more stamina.

I'm 56, live alone on the 2nd floor.  I started walking to my mailbox which is about a block there and back.  It's tough, I'm slow.  Going up the stairs is hard, but instead of stopping in my floor, I go to the third floor and come back down to mine.  Slowly.  Just a way to incorporate a little exercise for my lungs and a way to measure my breathing progress.  

I found it much better to wear a bralette or loose sports bra.

I have numbness and really strange nerve pain in my stomach/torso area and my back.  My surgeon said it was the path of the chest tubes.  Strange recovery.  I'm so glad I found this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...