British Heart Foundation
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Pain advice please

As some of you know, my recovery was going really well, so much so after 6 weeks I was discharged.

I then started driving but only very short distances.

I seem to have very painful bouts on my left side, this recent one started on Monday after I had driven a little on Sunday, a little on Monday and a walk. This is after over 9 weeks so although I haven't started physio yet I am only doing basic fitness (not sure you can even call it that)

last month I went to the GP and he said that I should expect some pain after having a major op and gave me some co-comamol. Well this week has been really bad with pain in my neck, shoulder and back, last night my shoulder was in agony I found it hard to get comfortable although the pain killers have helped.

Today I have sent my apologies to the annual family BBQ which is to celebrate my sister's birthday as I don't want to try and be nice when I am still in pain (although it has eased a little as I have just popped a few pills)

I intend to phone the GP on Monday to get more pain killers and want to know how long should I put up with this pain before asking to see someone.

I am seeing the physio on the 31st and am hopeful they should have some answers.

I don't see the point in actually seeing the GP as they just tell me having had such a big op this is to be expected.

Did anyone else have as much muscular pain and if so how long did it last?

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I am a little behind you. But what I can say is that the night I was discharged I believe I slept awkwardly to protect my sternotomy. Result I have had left sided neck pain, that is really not controlled with paracetamol- unable to take co-codamol due to Hirschsprung's, I have now had it 3 weeks (I am only 4 weeks post-op). Mine is improving but very slowly. Day one my neck was so sore i could not dress and my head was literally locked to the right.I needed someone to feed me. I can now do most things and my head is not stuck but I get random searing pains from the most simple things like walking, dressing and surprisingly the worst is when I get in and out of bed on an in breath. So yes I have had extensive muscular pain and mostly in my neck and collar bones.

I am afraid I can not really answer your question about how long you should wait to ask to see someone. I suspect the best thing to do is ensure you mention it to the Physio when you see them. There is very little GP's can do about true muscular pain other than pain killers and referral to a physio- waiting times for which can be up to 2 years. If the pain is associated with other symptoms then the GP may order scans but the rules for this are very specific.

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I suppose I am looking for reassurance from the medical people that it is just that, muscular, and not anything else. I would like an x ray just to show there is nothing more sinister going on because this seems to be going on so long. I have a terrible pain in my left shoulder just like a frozen shoulder but I cannot take Ibuprofen like I did before because of the other medications.

I am torn between being a wus and not being sensible, I think that is why I just need some reassurance.

Sorry about your pain but glad it is improving I know that I have needed the stronger pain killers to help especially as they have helped me to sleep.

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Hi Heather, sorry to hear of this. I dont remember being in that much pain so often. I did take cocodamol regularly to relieve the pain round the scarring. Rehab on the 31st is too long to wait and i think this needs to be looked at,

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The trouble is all I have is my GP and they keep telling me it's normal after a big op - I feel like there is no-one else to talk to talk to about this.

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Try the BHF helpline 0300 330 3311. It isn't right, the act of driving shouldn't give you pain like this.

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Personally I believe your body isn't ready yet to drive too frequent or at all. I've been out from OHS 6 weeks now and had driven locally and found my body not feeling totally comfortable as it should.

Also coupled with raised daily activities my body will get tired so I've decided not to push my recovery too hard. Remember your using neck chest Back oblique arm muscles; all combined will effect your core and obvious driving abilities.

I have had a stiff neck ecm muscle tightening, jaw tension, a small raised bump on my lower right side of neck causing slight breathing problems weeks before and after surgery and told gp. I had blood test and my thyroid level was little high which can cause allot of problems. Possible goitre /Hyperthyroidism not hypothyroidism. I've had another blood test to double check which gp requested so ask your gp for blood test just in case.

Besides this, You'll need more rest and rehab to strengthen all muscle groups, practically everything to establish a healthier body. I'd suggest some basic resistance exercises to strengthen muscle groups and core - tai chi which I do every other day. Stretching and allot more walking as I'm walking 40 minutes a day now adding 1 minute each day changing my route daily. Do deep breathing too to expand the Lungs and chest.

I'm not taking any pain killers now as it's bearable and my body is getting stronger.

Lastly I don't of recent use a pillow to sleep. Keeping my head flat has eased the neck tension.

Hope this helps.

.

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Heather, I think you should ask for an X-Ray just to rule anything out, but I too have left side pain post 16 weeks. I still have pleurisy fluid on my lung and the pain goes right up to the shoulder and under my rib cage. I have had more antibiotics and have been having regular X -rays. I had this pain when I attended rehab and they would not let me exercise at all and referred me back to GP ended up back in hospital at the time had a CT scan which picked up the problem this was when I was about 4 weeks post op. I don't want to freak you out, but given what we have been through its better to yourself checked out. I agree with Skid 31st to long too wait. I take codeine 60mg every 6 hours and paracetamol 4 hourly seems to ease the pain, but it hasn't stopped it though. I don't drive so not sure if your symptoms are related to driving as you sound like you have either a muscular problem or an infection.

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Last night and today have been a nightmare as the painkillers that usually work have not either last night or today and it seems to be my neck that is causing the issue.

I still feel it is muscular but why it should be hurting like this I don't know, it doesn't sound if anyone on here has suffered with the same thing either which is worrying.

I will ring the GP tomorrow as I really don't feel up to the trip to see them, it is uncomfortable to move around but hopefully I will get some kind of reply.

In some ways while the tablets worked I felt it was bearable now I am not so sure but trying to express pain and type of pain is very difficult, as I have said before I think I have a high pain threshold but they may not believe me.

Hopefully I will have something better to report tomorrow.

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I do hope you get some answers, but if you are like me just want to recover as quickly as possible, but I think you have to remind yourself you are still in very early days of recovery. So slow down a little. Take Care

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You are very right but I seem to be going backwards, I felt I was ready to take on anything after 6 weeks, yet 10 weeks down the line I am really suffering. The pain has eased a little so I will try and drag it out till 11 pm before taking the pills. As I can only take 8 a day I have to spread them out especially at night.

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Hopefully help you get some sleep.

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Still pain free even though I haven't taken a pill so have had a shower and washed my hair - I thought as I am due to take the tablets it wouldn't hurt too much to clean up. Fingers crossed.

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I hope you had a better nights sleep and the pain free has continued, I, like you, believe from the symptoms its muscular, have you thought about the statins and the side effects from those?

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The statins did cross my mind but I have been on them for 4 years (the higher dose since January) and these new ones have not given me any problems but if I get more problems I may take some time off them, it may be trial and error.

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Hi Heather, I've read your posts about pain with interest as I'm having surgery next month and have a trapped nerve in my neck so already suffer with muscular neck, shoulder, arm and upper rib pain and hope it doesn't get worse after the op. I'm not saying you have the same problem but I've had a lot of private physio which has helped enormously and wonder if you need a qualified physio to give you a gentle massage to ease your muscles as you may have overworked them by driving. I also sit with a hot water bottle against the affected area which also eases tension and pain from the muscles.

I hope you feel much better soon and understand how frustrated you must feel.

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Thank you I hope yours doesn't get worse, it doesn't seem to cause others the same pain so fingers crossed you'll be okay.

If I were just given some info it would be some help.

I do need to have the assessment from the cardio physio before I engage with anyone else but after the pain I had last week I would certainly pay someone to do some manipulation as long as it was safe.

I have a heated 'thing' that I put on the microwave and then put around my neck, it s full of beads that heat up, I have been using that. It is pretty old and no longer smells of lavender but if it did give me some relief.

What surgery do you have lined up, is it bypass surgery? Whatever it is good luck and let us know how it all goes.

Thanks again for your reply.

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Hi Heather, I'm having mitral valve repair or replacement on September 18th. I can't wait to get it all done and behind me!

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I bet, I know when I had the date I went on auto pilot (mine was a bypass) I know deep (deep) down it was the right thing to do but at the moment it is hard to see that. I am sure you will feel the same.

Remember there is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel (a cliche I know) so chin up and don't be afraid to have a moan when you feel fed up, you can only be stoic for so long. :-)

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I have spoken to the doctor and he does think it is the tail end of when I should be getting problems (and mine seem to be getting worse) so he has given me more pain killers and said I am to see him if things do get painful again.

So rightly or wrongly I have driven to Tesco but no prescription as yet but luckily I do have 8 (sad that I count) left so can cope till tomorrow and then I may have to chase it up.

After my 3 mile drive I will pop a couple more, I just hope this isn't another false start.

I am going to the hairdressers tomorrow hopefully a bit of beautification will lift my spirits! :-)

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Hi Heather, how are you today?

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Thank you for asking and dare I say it but so much better!! I have taken Paracetamol today not cocodamol so have dropped down a bit. I have been out and delivered the paper to my mother and been to the hairdressers so we'll see how tonight goes as I usually have the problems after driving, so watch this space. I am hopeful that this is the start of the improvement but I have been here before so am trying not to get too excited.

What about you?

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Good you've had your hair done, a bit of pampering makes you feel better. I 'm doing well physically, still have left shoulder pain, but had an X-ray last week so won't know until Friday if pleurisy cleared up. The other thing I am getting is tingling and numbness down both arms, but I put this down to the scar tightness. I find if I do too much it's worse. So I've slowed down. Like you I think I'm super woman and carry on then a few days later I feel I'm going backwards. thanks for asking

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I know - I'll be told off for doing too much as I went to my mother's and then the hairdressers but I have to start leading a normal life - I hoped that would start in August and yet here we on the 15th August still not there - maybe September!! I hope the xray gives you some answers.

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Well nearly a year later, all seems to be going well BUT on Tuesday I had the same awful pain as I had early doors, it seems skeletal and goes across my back and chest finding it hard to settle in bed, it also makes deep breaths difficult. It all started on Tuesday and I am just taking it easy today (I worked through it Tues/Wed and Thursday.) If it continues into next week obviously I'll follow it up.

I think I said at some point it doesn't feel like heart related but related to the op - I had just hoped this far down the line things would have completely settled down.

I hope everyone is well and planning an enjoyable bank holiday.

I had a fab 2 weeks in Vegas in March and have booked 3 weeks in Orlando for September so let's hope this soon settles down.

Take care all.

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