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why are my ribs numb??


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Questions-----------i had lobectomy done 3 weeks ago. once we took out the epidural i started 'feeling' how bad i really did 'feel'. across my rib cage, under right breast is so sore. i tell my family it should be black and blue because that's how it feels. but of course, it's not, but what is it??? it goes from being numb, to sore. it seems a strange place to have such pain, is it from nerves in my back that were cut?? i have also started feeling shooting pains at the incision site which i'm assuming are also nerves. another thing is after lying on back at night, i have a lot of pain trying to breath. i think it's just general pain that will go away w/time but i thought maybe some of you might have experienced some of this too and could shed some light on it.

i'm so excited that tomorrow will get rid of this @#$$ chest tube. the surgeon will also give me the go ahead to see my onc. so we can begin working on the next phase, chemo. i'm excited to start (OK, wrong choice of words, maybe not excited but anxious) so then i'm one step closer to getting my life back, of going back to work, etc. i'm still struggling w/what to do about my job. ya'll remember i'm a hairstylist, specializing in color. i make good money but i guess it's not worth my life. i plan to talk to onc. about it.

one more quick thought, has absolutely nothing to do with any of this, just something i read that has stuck with me. "Cancer gives people around you the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Our job is to LET them". i like it because i have such a hard time letting other people do things for me.

hope everyone has a wonderful day. xoxoxo

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Melanie -

I have no idea about your pain, but wish you well and hope that chest tube comes out smoothly.

As far as your career - I went to a hairstylist here in Atlanta one time who specialized in using only coloring products that were all natural (i.e. no chemicals - I think the one she used on me was mostly carrot juice or something, but I'm not/didn't turn out to be a redhead!) Anyway, maybe this is something you could look into. And if it's something that interests you, you have some time these days to study up on it and then when you're able you can position yourself as an expert in the field, as this lady was known.

Good luck!


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You'll see a large difference once that chest tube is out. The numbness is

nerves cut. I had the same thing. It was a yr. on the 15th for me and

Iam still numb. I look at it, that it is better than pain. Good luck w/that

chest tube coming out. Mine didn't hurt coming out.

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That pain is "normal". Some of it will leave you with the chest tube, I promise. I think the shooting pains I had were directly attributed to my dryer conduit in my side...

BUT, not all of the pain will go.

I tried to describe it to my husband (since there's no bruising, etc. on the outside). It went kinda like this: Feels like they went in the side with a melon baller and scooped out all the breast tissue and everything connected to my ribs on the inside...

It hurt on the inside, couldn't exactly pinpoint it on the outside, though....

I still get a twinge in the area under my right arm and right breast and I'm 19 months from surgery. The pain DOES ease, but it's real gradual. As the nerves heal, you'll go from achy to itchy (and not be able to find the place to scratch 'cuz those nerves are scrambled)...needle-like pain every now and then (like the pins and needles you feel when your foot falls asleep)..

It gets better.....honest.

Take care,


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Hi Melanie---I am over 4 yrs from my lobectomy, so I cannot remember all of the pain, but I do remember getting chest pains in the middle of my chest that woke me up--never found out what caused them but they went away---also the nerve damage is what is causing most of the pain-

and also I had alot of indigestion which seems to be the norm after a lobectomy

--It does take awhile to heal-, especially in the breast area---the numbness and sensitivity stays with you for a long time

-but I must say after 4+ years, although I do not have the breathing capacity I used to have, nothing really hurts anymore---

good luck to you with your treatment, I hope you fly through it


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I am 19 months out of surgery and I STILL have numbness on my right side (surgical scar is under armpit, straight down), and along the bra line/ribs. About 6 months after surgery, I started getting zinging pains in my right breast and under the breast, at my ribs. The doctor said it was my nerve endings regenerating. To this day, if I run my finger along my side, it feels like I am tickling my back. And, like Becky said above, you can never quite find that "itch" to scratch......The nerves are all jumbled.

This is a huge surgery that takes some (lots!) time for your body to recover from. Give it time, it does get better :D

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Dear Melanie,

I'm sure you'll feel some difference once they take out the chest tube, but you can probably expect that peculiar feeling to stay for some time. My husband had a lobectomy at the end of April, and after he got over the intense pain from surgery, he began complaining about the rib area -- felt "stiff", he said, "uncomfortable", with twinges of real pain. He still has some of that even now although it's not anywhere near what it was, and it IS nerve pain. He's been put on neurontin for the pain, although I'm not really sure that does that much for it; he's cutting down on the neurontin gradually as the pain subsides also gradually. We're looking forward to the day when he realises that he's not feeling it -- but I think that's a long way down the road.

We were given estimates of anywhere from a few weeks to months, even years, and you'll see from the experiences of people here that it varies wildly from one person to the next. It's just good to know that it's not cancer -- just plain old nerve pain (never thought that the idea of "nerve pain" would be a welcome one !).


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