Pain under right arm after IL surgery - Oesophageal Patie...

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Pain under right arm after IL surgery


My husband has constant ‘pulled muscle’ type of pain under the right underarm where the IL surgery cut.

Is this a part and parcel consequence from this type of surgery? When will this pain subside?

His swelling around the under arm cut has gone down a lot but the pain remains constant. He feels pain moving his right arm and sitting back hurts that area too.

14 Replies

I had the IL procedure in April 2013 and still have this pain under my right arm, I was referred to the pain clinic last year but because of this covid 19 everything is on hold, still suffer from dumping syndrome but mananaging daily tasks and enjoying family life

Unfortunately this is a pain which has no cure from medicine, only pain killer if needed.

If you notice the cut is very large and into the muscles so it will take very very long time depending upon individual's healing ability and usual exercise. Note that everybody is different and has unique recovery times/strategy/outcomes.

The pain will stay there for long long time. not something to be worried as its collateral damage from the cut. He is very early in the recovery at 4 months. over the period with sustained use of the right arm in a way to rebuild the muscles will subside the pain to greater extent.

New Normal is very subjective for all of us. Expectation to return to pre-surgery in all aspects as soon as possible is unfortunately an unrealistic desire, if not goal.

Very true, no wonder the surgeon wasn’t too concern with my husband’s pain under the arm. He kept saying that the pain will be there for a while as an IL surgery is the most major surgery to be performed on a person!

My husband was a little cautious with using his right arm, not wanting to further aggravate the area. When walking, he’ll place his right hand inside his jacket pocket to prevent too much swinging of his right hand.

yes indeed, the recovery is a long haul for most if not for all.

There's a patient who went back in a month full time into his garden related manual work, if I recall correctly. everybody is different.

Its body's natural reaction by slumping forwards (in reaction to the front abdomen cut pain/diaphragm strain afterwards), resting or overprotecting right arm when swinging about or doing something normal. offcourse when right arm used good enough will give pain on the back side.

Surgeon will be mainly looking for patient coping physically and mentally well, as this is one of the radical and major surgery a patient can go through.

slumping forwards and avoiding using the right arm, my wife consciously reminds me to stop doing that. sometimes need second pair of eyes to see that.

I was 80kgs prior to surgery, went to 66-68 stabilised there for long time. Now relaxing at home with family during the lockdown and gone up to 74ish. I am sure when I start the work (whenever that happens :)) I will go back to 68 due to the day to day life away from home.

Recovery is a roller-coaster journey and been enjoyed on daily basis. pain is always there as a companion, I have learnt to live with it.

sometimes over relaxing is good, but overdoing is bad every single time. personal experience.

This is an amazing site, what a melting pot of people who so generous take the time to share their experiences.

I am so thankful to have found this group.

Everyone, stay safe and keep well 🙏🏼

I’m four and a half years post Ivor lewis. I also had that pain and the ribs o the right side were completely numb. I still have residual pain and numbness. I was very worried about losing shoulder movement and mobility as a result of the surgery. I have always used my arm as much as normal and exercised it from the beginning. I haven’t lost any movement in my arm or shoulder. I just have this much reduced pain and numbness though to be fair it took years to subside.

I think you should speak to a physio for advice and get back to movement. The surgeon told me the pain and numbness was from the damaged nerves. I think I’d have far more problems from not using the arm.

Improvement is slow but does come with time. I think exercise is very much needed!

Hi 4.5 years after surgery still get pain there but never gave up exercise or using the arm. It took me a long time to get full movement. I now do small weight exercise on arms. I was lucky to get a program of exercise from a Macmillan instructor.

Your arm is elevated during surgery and obviously cut through nerves etc.

It is early days for him a major op.

Best wishes


Notknowmuch in reply to kiddy

Thanks Debbie, I'll encourage my husband to move his right arm, little by little as it has only been 3 months since his IL surgery.

Encouragement is key :) I had my op over 10 years ago and there is still some residual pain in this area still now, more of an ache than pain if I am honest, each of us heal at a different rate but I am a firm believer that mental attitude is a major player in the recovery process. Even now I still try to do everything, some times i regret it and am 'uncomfortable' for a couple of days but my thought is that if I don't try I wont know - so I keep trying, sometimes much to my wife's annoyance as she can see as soon as I come in that I am 'uncomfortable'. But for me physcologically I have to try to be 'normal'. Its early days in his journey but if it has the same outcome as I have had I am sure he will be very pleased in the end- that old saying 'your a long time dead' resounds with me whenever I write on here and this is a much better alternative (in my opinion) :)

Notknowmuch in reply to rayw55

Thank you, your comments are encouraging and my husband has taken all the experiences and advice shared here.

He was a little ‘petal’ about the pain not wanting to cause further injury as the nightmare of the surgery is enough deterrent to be admitted for anything again 😅!

I agree with everyone else’s responses. I’m 20 months post op and still have pain and very numb on my right side.

I also get very tight through the rib area when walking or when my body gets tired.

I would encourage your husband to use his right arm as normally as he can.

Movement is the best things for recovery.

This is very hard on our partners as well.

The life style change hits the whole family.

All the best,

World of experts on this site with personal experience.

Not the club I ever wanted to belong to but I am so glad I found eveyone.

Yes, we were a bit cautious with my husband using his right arm but from numerous posts here my husband has been assured that it is ok to have that pain and using his right arm is important for his healing. Thank you.

I am 3 years post surgery and the incision is still sore at times. But not like year 1 when a even a small bump in the road was painful.

I live in Atlanta and I see that at times treatment on this side of the pond may be a little different.

Since that incision is through lots of nerves, my surgeon gave me a prescription for Gabapentin for the first year. He provided me with this prescription as he said as these nerves regenerate, they are really firing off during this healing practice. Gspapentin is a drug that is usually used for control of nerve pain from Neuropathy. I believe it was helpful for me.

Good luck

Good to know that the underarm area pain is also part of the ‘norm’ and will ease a little with some movement and Lots of patience.

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