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Nerve pain after surgery

Nerve pain after surgery

Posted by MaryAnnR on Jan 27, 2019 11:36 pm

I was just wondering if anyone has had nerve pain after surgery.  I had a lobectomy and chest wall resection almost two months ago.  I have had nerve pain in my upper right arm as well as on my right breast and into the right armpit.  I am taking Gabapentin 300mg 3x a day as well as Advil and Tylenol throughout the day.  I find that these meds do very little for the pain.  I also take hydromorphone 2.3mg when the pain gets beyond me.  Usually I take that up to twice a day.  The doctors have said that with time the pain may diminish but perhaps the pain across the right breast will not because of the nerves that were affected when they did surgery (they removed the top 4 ribs and nerves in that area were affected, thus the pain in the breast area).  I would love to get greater relief and wondered if anyone had any suggestions if they have experienced anything similar.  I do not want to become dependent on hydromorphone and so take it when it is absolutely necessary.  Thanks for reading and would welcome your comments.

Re: Nerve pain after surgery

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 28, 2019 9:09 am

Hi, MaryAnnR‍ , I’m pretty sure that nerve pain can happen after almost any surgery, and it does sometimes linger. I had a major back surgery decades ago that involved “rearranging” skin tissue. Naturally, this rearranged nerves as well, so things felt pretty weird for quite some time after.  Also my Dad (who had lung surgery in Dec. 2017) had different sensations around his incisions and inside for a month or two after. He, too, was on the hydromorphone, and like you, he only took it when he absolutely needed it. Dad’s surgery was not as invasive as yours in that they left his ribs in place.

Your doctors did give you a “perhaps” with the comment that the pain across your breast won’t improve, so there is some hope there.

Have you been able to do any self assessment?  Have you noticed any improvement in the pain since the surgery? In the last month? In the last two weeks?  Sometimes, if we are able to see or acknowledge that there has been some improvement, we become more aware of future improvements as they happen.

It amazes me at times, that even after doctors have worked their magic to fix us, which unfortunately usually scrambles some of our tissues, our bodies take over and figure out how knit themselves back together.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Nerve pain after surgery

Posted by ACH2015 on Jan 28, 2019 9:40 am

Hi MaryAnnR‍ 

I'd had the same concerns about dependency on pain killers for similar symptoms. Mine were related primarily to pre surgery nerve and referred pain.

Your dosages in Gabapentin and Hydromorphone are very low. This is not my opinion, this is what my oncologist and home care RN told me when I expressed concerns.

It's always a good idea to talk to your medical team about all the areas of pain you are experiencing to make sure further investigation is not required. Keep track of the pain as well. Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10, and write down any triggers you notice. What physical rehabilitation has recommended for you, or have you not spoken to a rehab specialist yet?

The key to keeping on top of your pain at a low dose is to learn and identify your early pain triggers. Taking pain meds when you're already in pain means you are now fighting to control threshold at the top, vs getting the relief as a preventative measure. Make sense? I learned this from my home care RN, and it made a positive difference for me in gaining better control of my pain,

Time, healing and adjusting to the discomfort are all parts of the process. Another tidbit I'll share from my RN, did you know that scar tissue continues to heal for approx 2 years?

Each of us will heal at different rates, and suffer from pain as a side effect based on our unique circumstances. Exercise, movement, massage and other therapies that encourage healing when you are able may also assist in reducing the pain. I am just one year post the major surgery (plus two that followed) and although I still have discomfort in those areas - its no where near the same pain level I suffered. I've weaned off of the same pain meds you described, as the symptoms decreased and aspirin is the strongest medication required.

You've just healed for two months after some pretty invasive surgery. Time and pain management techniques heals all wounds.

Keep well and give yourself some time.

ACH2015 - Andy.


Re: Nerve pain after surgery

Posted by MaryAnnR on Jan 28, 2019 4:46 pm

Thank you Cynthia Mac and Andy for your thoughts. Much appreciated.

Re: Nerve pain after surgery

Posted by nancy180 on Jan 29, 2019 12:09 pm

Hi, all,
Just a comment about nerve pain. It’s been 3 1/2 years and I still have weird pains. I assume it’s mostly nerves re arranging themselves. 
I had 3 large tubes through my right side chest to drain lungs. I can feel exactly where it was and get a stabbing pain a few days a week. I also get a severe pain in my upper back where one of my scars is. 
I had a feeding tube for several months and was on Gabepebtin and Oxecotdon for about a year. I am allergic to everything else, esp morphine makes me vomit. 
I will say one day I got tired of the constipation issue and stopped taking everything. Now I take the odd ibprophen. Oxy is a fabulous drug and I never got addicted to it. 
The nerve pain seems to be something we have to tolerate and live with. After speaking to all my Docs over the last few years, none can offer any help except ibprophen. So I tolerate it because there’s nothing I can find that helps. If you guys come up with any ideas, please share. And good luck.