AF Ablation and back pain : Hello, I am... - AF Association

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AF Ablation and back pain

BG2017 profile image


I am wondering if anyone has had a similar experience to me ?....

I had my second ablation early December and the early signs look really promising- after a 3 day run of Af in the second week I have been Af free - which feels incredible. In terms of after effects from the ablation I have been very fortunate and the only side effect I have experienced has been chest discomfort.

For the last 7 days though I have had back pain. It comes from the top centre of the back and radiates around the the left rib cage right the way around to the front of the chest. It hurts to take deep breaths and is agony to lay down ( to the point where I have had to sleep sitting up). The sternum pain still occurs intermittently but is manageable. Has anyone experienced this post-ablation or is it likely that it is unrelated and merely coincidental? (Maybe I have strained some inter-costal muscles).

Thank you for taking the time to read,


9 Replies

Hi Becky

I once has something similar. Was on holiday in North Wales and went on one of the narrow gauge railway rides. Got off the train and started eating a Chelsea bun bought from a local shop. Halfway through I had the most dreadful pain in my chest and back and it hurt to take a deep breath. With hindsight now I should have gone straight to hospital, with suspect heart problem, but I was 25 years younger and more carefree than now. I tried to ignore it but the pain was awful and like you I couldn't lie how I wanted to in bed and it hurt to move. Well I had that pain for weeks, maybe months before it went.

Many years later I asked my GP what it could have been and he thought perhaps a little hernia in a lung.

Please don't suffer in silence, see your GP.


BG2017 profile image
BG2017 in reply to jeanjeannie50

Thanks so much for your reply Jean. I think I kept believing all week I had just pulled something (or healing from the ablation)and it would sort itself out, this afternoon has been slightly better but I will keep your advice in mind and maybe see a Gp if it doesn’t resolve. Thank you.

BobD profile image

This needs to be checked out so please either speak to your GP or the arrhythmia nurse where you had the ablation first thing and if it gets any worse go to A and E.

BG2017 profile image
BG2017 in reply to BobD

Thank you Bob for the advice.

I had back pain after my ablation. I think it was caused by the awful hospital bed and not being able to get into a comfortable position. I also remember having back pain about a week later when I was travelling to Cheshire and had to stay overnight. My chest hurt when I took deep breaths and it was like that for 2-3 weeks.


I had back pain radiating around to the left too in similar central position in the chest area. (only pain I really suffered tbh.)

Nothing to do with my ❤️ And doctors and EP both said probably the very flat hard table you have to lay on to have the ablation on. EP tole me often a common problem afterwards.

So I went to a Cranial Osteopath ( very gentle, obviously private unfortunately..) and discovered it was a rib out of line.

She then worked on releasing the rib and easing the pain. Ribs are of course attached to the stern am. As someone said, when sedated, the muscles go soft and don't protect us from lying in the wrong position etc hence damage can occur.

Still have to revisit Osteopth every few months to keep rib in correct position as I'm getting older and stiffer unfortunately!

Happy to talk further if you want to.

Best wishes


in reply to Sarah57

Yes I believe you are right. I had awful pains on day 3. Thought I was having a heart attack at 12:30am. Left shoulder blade ached and it hurt to breath. Also my left shoulder with pain radiating down the underside of my left arm. Within half an hour it seemed to be coming from my left shoulder. So after massaging it I finally fell back to sleep. I had pains in back and shoulder (and under rib cage) off and on for 30 days. I am now about 40 days post ablation. I talked to my EP and he said it is not uncommon for people with broader shoulders to have such problems. He said the operating table in the lab is very narrow so he and the technicians can get in close when working over you and that your arms hang down for hours. 5 hours in my case. I do suspect there my be trouble with a rib on the right side when I turn to look over my right shoulder (for example when backing up the car). I appreciate your mentioning alternative therapy so I'll be checking in with a chiropractor to make sure everything is getting back to normal.

I was found to have a small pneumothorax about six weeks after ablation although I didn't have symptoms like yours. As Bob says, best to check it out with professionals. Please report when you get a diagnosis, hopefully nothing serious.

Thank you for your replies. I called into the Gp practice today and saw a trainee. He examined my back (which doesn’t hurt when manipulated) and my stomach and then declared it to be muscular and to take ibuprofen. So I explained ibuprofen is a definite no and is highlighted in capital letters on my ablation discharge letter. The practice nurse offered an ecg (still showing sinus rhythm- yay!!).I am sure he is right and it will ease up soon. Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences as it now seems quite a logical after effect of the ablation.

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