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In October 2015, I underwent a first rib resection after being diagnosed with Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (Subclavian Compression v. Nueral Compression). My case was fairly urgent as the blood flow was limited to roughly 10% thru my subclavian vein. I was very lucky as I did not experience any typical symptoms such as a swollen arm due to clotting. I originally went to the doctors because I had a pain in my lower abdomin, which I thought was pneumonia coming on. I tested positive for D-Dimer (results around 2.0+), therefore my doctor immediately sent to get a CT Scan to rule out a blood clot. I did not have a blood clot, but this is when they did discover the unusually narrow vein. The doctor advised I see a Thoracic specialist.
The surgery went well. I was in the hospital for 2 nights. Recovery took about 4-6 weeks before I could go back to work full-time. I underwent PT for about 2 months, starting 1 month after surgery.
However, since October I have experienced a number of side effects including:
1. Horner's Syndrome. My right pupil (side of surgery) is still noticably constricted.
2. Numb arm due to damage of the long thoracic nerve, a constant roller coaster of sharp, acute pain and soreness near my right breast bone (I had my right first rib taken out). I want to understand if the pains I am feeling 6 months later are a normal part of nerve regeneration and if anyone has a similar experience, how long they last? The pain seems to come on and off all day. Some pains (acute/shooting) mainly in the mid-section of my right arm. The under side of my arm is still numb to touch.
3. Another pain I experience is near my second rib, where it attachs to the breastbone. A lower position then where my first rib was taken out, so I find this strange, the irriation would be lasting this long.
4. About 2 months ago, I started getting sharp pains in my upper lung (is the best way to describe it). When I drink cold water or other beverages it sends a sharp pain to the area. It is very strange.
5. Stuffy nose at night. Since surgery I can not breathe through my nose fully. It feels stuffy and not clear.
I have been to a few typical follow up appointments but my surgeon has not been able to identify a detailed reason for these pains besides a side effect of surgery. I understand my body underwent an intrusive surgery and needs time to heal, but I often get worried now something else is wrong, since the pains come on so suddenly and sharp, six months later.
We do not know the reason for the development of the VTOS. One of my surgeons suggested it happened when I was young, as the network of blood vessels around the vein were enlarged and carried much of the blood not flowing through my subclavian vein. The main surgeon thinks it may have happened within in the last 5 years. Typically trauma or excessive overhead movement causes VTOS, however neither of these applied to my case.
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