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Post Thoracotomy Syndrome
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Post Thoracotomy Syndrome

I had a thoracotomy to remove a mass in Oct. 2008 and have been in pain ever since the epideral was removed.  I have tried blocks between my rib cages, different pain medications and medications like Cymbalta and Lyrica.  I don't know what else to do.  I am only 29 and live with major pain every day of my life now.  I am unable to work and simple task like leaning to do dishes just kills me.  My pain is all on my left side.  It starts at my breast, goes down under my rib cage and around to my back.  I don't know what else to do.  I hurt so bad and feel like no one understands.  I am treated like I just want pain medicine when in all actuality I just want fixed.  I want my life back.  Please help!!!  I will try anything!!!
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hello CL,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. I am glad that you found us but sorry to hear about your chronic pain.

Have you been to a PM Clinic? If you have not I would encourage you to do so. A good PMP can help control you pain and hopefully offer suggestions that other physicians have not provided.

To what are they attributing your pain? I would guess neuropathic pain if they are prescribing Lyrica. It can be one of the hardest pains to treat effectively. You deserve to be beleived and to have your pain properly controlled. If you are not obtaining that through your current physician that I encourage you to find another physician. Again a good PMP may be your best alternative.

Take care and please let us know how you are doing.

Peace,
Tuck
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello CL and Tuck,

as one of seemingly many patients suffering from the painful consequences of a "minimal-invasive-" thoracotomy 10 months ago I just found this forum and wonder if there is a kind of Society for post thoracotomy pain syndrom (syndrome) - which bundles all possible information around this specific problem?


Best  Wishes

the_oro_land
from Berlin

email: the_oro_land***@****

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82861_tn?1333457511
My guess is you have a ton of adhesions (scar tissue) from the surgery.  The only cure for that is more minimally invasive surgery to cut the scar tissue to release the structures it's attached to.  The problem is that more surgery can also cause more adhesions to form, so surgeons tend to not want to go back into the OR with these patients - at least, not until everything else has been tried and failed, or the patient's life is immediately threatened.

I don't care how "minimally invasive" they say a thoracotomy is these days, it's still a whole lot of work that causes a whole lot of inflammation and in some people, a whole lot of internal scarring.  Has your doctor ever brought up that angle in your discussions?
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Avatar_m_tn
I sympathize with you... I developed what can only be described as the king daddy of chronic empeyma in March of 2011.  After having a thoracotomy, and full decortication of my right lung, I am experiencing constant, chronic, severe pain.  I have done some extensive research on this procedure, and from what I have read, my case was severe, to say the least.  I was in surgury for 5-1/2 hours, requiring 4 units of blood, and the surgeon who performed the procedure described my chest cavity as looking like "a bomb went off in your chest."  I am a 40 year old male who was in superior physical condition prior to the pneumonia and empeyma.  I am now struggling with post thoracotomy pain syndrome, with the only treatment being opiates... physical therapy did absolutely nothing to help.. I am seeing a Pain Management specialist soon, so I might get some answers.  The frustrating part of this whoe ordeal is that, Post Thoracotomy Pain is real and severe.. and I am treated like a drug addict by the IM physicians that I see... so far, oxycodone is the only thing that enables me to feel even remotely normal..but they nearly refuse to prescribe it to me.  Believe me, if there are other treatments, I would love to receive them..... ultimately the question is, is being physically or psychologically addicted to opiates worth not having to live 24 hours a day in crushing pain?  You tell me.
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Avatar_m_tn
There is no such thing as a "minimally invasive" thoacotomy!!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow...I didn't know there were other people like me. My story is kinda weird...I had a posterolateral thoracotomy back in the Stone Age when I was 14 (in 1966 for heart surgery). Although I always had the deadness on my left side I got used to that. But for some reason, five years ago I began to experience excruciating pain in my RIGHT shoulder blade, worse with use. I had a cervical disc fusion and it did nothing to ease my pain. I have been on percocet for 7 years now and have no answers from any of the doctors I've seen. The painkillers have ruined my stomach so I've cut back on them; I never sleep any more because of the pain. I couldn't do my job any more. If I take it easy my pain is about a 4 (except when the weather changes, then a 7 or 8); but if I ignore it it gets quickly up to an 8 or 10. I tried to fix Thanksgiving dinner and ended up on my kitchen floor in a fetal position. I've tried pain clinics, massage, epidurals, drugs, ice, heat, PT, everything. I use a heating pad so much my skin is burned and when I try to use a pain patch it pulls my skin off. All I want is an answer. Can this be delayed thoracotomy pain? And why don't doctors address this when I bring it up?
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Avatar_f_tn
PS-I forgot to mention they sawed two of my ribs off back in 1966...
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Avatar_m_tn
Your'e story sounds similar to mine.i had a unnecessary thorocotomy and a partial lung removal in 2004. I have developed  severe chronic pain since, i have gone through all the  med's like cymbalta, lyrica,elevil and nuerontin. unfortunately  no help. then we tried several different nerve blocks,and a dorsal colum stimulator. still no help. i really don't know what to do next. best of luck with your situation.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I have read many of your stories and it makes my plight that much harder to deal with.  I had a major thoracotomy surgery to repair a diaphragmatic hernia and place 6 major organs back in their correct place.  This was in Jan. 2012 and I have been dealing with sever neuropathic pain since.  I had the surgery in Chicago while living in Indiana.  Was told that the pain might be lessened in FL as many spinal patients had told their Dr. it helped them.  My wife and I both on disability packed everything and moved to central FL  where the pain has been moderately less but with minimal activity becomes almost unbearable.  I have since lost my disability because the Hartford is a disgrace of a company and the Dr. that I found in Lakeland didn't have my records yet that were requested long ago from my physician up north, read what they said, accused me of insurance deceit and I had a hienal hernia instead of the diaphragmatic hernia that I did have.  My life is in shambles losing our home we put all we had into and still in pain and misery.   If anyone is reading this and knows of Dr.s to turn to in this area I would appreciate any help possible.  God Bless you all and hope your pain gets better.  BTW I have tried all of those meds previously listed as well except the nerve block
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