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Newbie introduction and wondering about post sugery chest pain?

danglinddanglin Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in New Member Introductions
I was very happy to find this site after my surgery, because its nice to see other people dealing with some of the same issues I have.

I am a 41 year old male, and I had C-5 to C-7 Anterior fusion with hardware on September 26. I spent 2.5 days in hospital after surgery, and have been wearing a Miami J hard collar 24 hours a day (except for when in the shower) every day. I was told I would wear it for 6 weeks, which will be my next follow up.

I had T-7 to T-8 fusion surgery in 2003, and it was a great success. I was back at work 4 weeks after surgery, and the pain I felt was gone as soon as I woke up from surgery.

In recent years, I have had a lot of back, neck and shoulder pain, especially muscle spasms and knotted muscles in my traps and neck. You can literally see a "knot" on top of my traps, and very sharp pain going down my right shoulder and into my finger tips. I have managed this pain with constant trips to the chiropractor for the last 3 years, but she finally said that I needed to see an Orthopaedic Dr, because she suspected I had disc issues around C-5.

After my recent visit to the surgeon, I found out she was right. The MRI showed the discs from C5 to C7 were gone, as well as several severe bone spurs that were putting pressure on the spine. I was in surgery a few days later. I thought all went well, but at 4.5 weeks post op, I am still in a lot of pain.

The pain in my right shoulder is much worse now than prior to the surgery. At my 2 week follow up my doctor shot up my shoulder with steroids, but that did not help.

However, my biggest concern, and question for those here on this forum, is why do I have severe right side chest pain (upon touch) and similar pain in my right lat muscle?? My chest does not hurt until you push in on it, but the pain is so severe that if someone were to grab my right pectoral muscle and squeeze it hard, I would probably pass out from pain.

I have been reading this forum for the first time today, and I did not see this symptom listed by anyone else, so I am curious if this is common. Since my surgery, my eyesight has also been affected, and I cannot read for long periods without getting a headache, so I am at the point now where I am tired of searching for answers. Any help or suggestions on the chest/lat pain would be helpful.

The pain in my shoulder has me very depressed, so seeing that I am not alone with this is very helpful. Now I just need to get some answers/suggestions on my chest and lat pain before I go back for my follow up.

Thanks so much,


  • First of all welcome to Spine Health. If you haven't done so already, let your doc know about this pain. I suffered with something similar after C1-C2 surgery and found it to be from positioning on the table and restraints.

  • HaglandC,
    Thanks for your response. My doctor told me at my 2 week follow up that I could have suffered shoulder damage when they strapped me down, because I have very wide shoulders. He did a follow up MRI and X-ray to make sure nothing had moved, since I had so much pain in my shoulder. At the time my shoulder pain was much more than my chest pain, so I didn't mention it. The MRI showed that the lower cadaver bone had moved slightly, but not enough to hurt anything, according to him. I will see him a week from Monday, so I will mention the chest pain to him then.

    Seeing your avatar reminded me of why this whole deal has been very depressing. I am the co-owner of a large haunted house here in Georgia, and due to this surgery, I have had to miss the entire Halloween season. I have not even made it up to my own haunted house a single night we have been open. On top of missing work at my regular day job, I have not been able to help out at the haunt at all, and my family has had to step in to cover my slack. This is very frustrating and I am ready for it to end.

    On a good note, I made it out of the house for only the 3rd time since surgery tonight. My wife took me to eat at I-HOP. It was a nice, short trip, and I don't seem to be hurting any worse afterwards. Maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel!
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  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. glad to hear you made it out for a nice evening with your wife.. laughter is the best medicine!!! halloween is my favorite holiday as well!!! i will be handing out candy to the kids on monday night!!! LOL!!! atleast we can have fun looking at all the kid's costumes and enjoying them!! be sure and have a good look around the different forums.. please make yourself at home!! stop by anytime!! there is always a spiney around.. good luck on the rest of your recovery! i hope you get to feeling better soon!!! Jenny :)
  • Dewayne, I tend to agree with C on this. I'm a surgical nurse, and I can tell you somewhat about the position for an ACDF, at least as far as all the surgeons I know. (Just remember, not everyone is the same.)

    In order to hold the patient's head absolutely in position, the head is immobilized with a strap that is attached to a weight. It's critical that there be absolutely no movement of the head -- you can understand why -- also because the docs typically use microscopes or magnifying loupes when dealing with such tiny nerves and delicate tissues.

    In order to get up close and personal with the patient's neck and help keep the musculature out of the way, the patient's arms are fixed at his/her sides. In addition, some tension is created and padding/straps used to keep the shoulders in a depressed position. (Imagine your hands sliding down your sides toward your toes, that's the depressed position.) You said you're a pretty muscular guy, so I can see where being a position like this could have caused a knot or two. I can't say definitively, of course, but it is most certainly possible.

    The nurse AND the personal trainer AND the massage therapist in me (yeah, if only I could massage myself I'd be all set) recommend -- in addition to checking with your doctor -- the following:

    1) For the knots on your traps, fill some dixie cups with water, freeze, peel as you go; use the ice on the knots for about 15 minutes at a time. You can alternate with heat, again, 15 minutes at a time. You never want to keep all ice or all heat for long periods of time. In addition to possible tissue damage, more than about 15-20 minutes actually causes a paradoxical reaction, and the muscles just clench up tighter.

    2) If you have someone who can help out, a bit of gentle massage over the knots, followed by steady, light pressure on the knot for about a 10-count, can help break up trigger points. You should never feel like it's more than about a 4 on a 1-10 scale. Follow up with a pain cream if you like. (I'm Mrs. Ben-Gay myself.)

    3) Once your get your doc's OK, working on relaxing your upper traps by depressing your shoulders. Sit in a chair, bending your elbows at your sides to a 90 degree angle, like you're holding a tray. Exhale as you gentle press your elbows toward the floor, hold, then release. Shoulder depressions will come in handy in the future to fight any muscle tension in your neck/traps. Just about everything's connected to the neck bone, or it feels that way at times.

    Again, as mentioned before, check in with your doctor to make sure everything is ok. But please don't worry yourself too too much, as some glitches and giddy-ups are normal for a few months post-surgery.

    Best of luck to you!
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