Hi all, I'm nearly 3 weeks post rib resection surgery for TOS

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I wish I'd been given info on post op recovery to better deal with this. Since the op on my left side (first) my arm, hand and fingers are numb but highly sensitive at the same time. Slightly cool water feels like ice! The strength is returning but very slowly and the pain is better but flares up quite often with doing only minor things. I've read now that nerves can be slow to recover but some insight prior to surgery I think would be helpful for people to be able to cope better because this is doing my head in!

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12 Replies

  • Posted

    I'm so glad you posted this. I'm almost 7 weeks past (my right side...left side was done 2 years ago) and my nerve pain is really bad this time. And that nerve pain with the cold thing is happening for me too still. I was worried about that since I'm this far along. The pain and numbness is better but still bad in the evenings. Its such a slow recovery. People ask me all the time..so are you fully recovered now? Far from it. Don't get me wrong it's better, but far from awesome. I'm so glad someone else has the cold thing! That was really scaring me! It'll get better, but not for a long time. It was 3 months the last time to start to really feel better and six months to feel way better.

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    • Posted

      I spoke to my sugeon about the pain and all the other sensations and he was very excited because it does mean the nerves are regenerating but this will take time. Lack of any sensation would be more worrying. I guess then that surgery was a success and I have to be more patient
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    • Posted

      That's exactly what mine said. It's showing that the blood flow is restored to the nerves. I am however worried that week seven I'm still having quite a bit of pain and the cold on the hand thing. There's a chance that can be permanent. So I'm really hoping that's not the case.

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    • Posted

      I have heard that recovery time could be relative to the amount of damage to the nerves before surgery so maybe it will take longer this time. My op was on the more affected side first so I'm hoping the right side wont be as bad. I hate not being able to drive and do minor things, it's like having to retrain your arm! Hang in there, I hope you have a full recovery soon. Btw was your op via the armpit or through the neck?

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    • Posted

      My incision was just over the collar bone. Interesting that you said that. My MRI showed that the second side was worse, but my first one had a lot more symptoms with pain in the arm and nerve pain. But all the tests showed this one to be worse. I still am very numb. But prickly pain in my chest. Such a weird sensation! I just want to go to bed at night and not have to take any pain meds. Mind you I am back to work and typing all day too. Just frustrating how long it takes. Everyone says..are you all healed now? Are you kidding me? No!  I wish!
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    • Posted

      I completely understand the frustration and I, too am waiting to have a good night's sleep without the pain. Nerve pain really is debilitating! My op was via the armpit so I was just wondering if one was quicker for recovery time. I have the chest pain also which my surgeon said is due to an inflamed pleura from the operation. It does sound like a long road to recovery!

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  • Posted

    I’m about to have my right side done via transaxillary in 3 weeks. I’m wondering if I can fly home for Christmas which is a 6 hour flight only a week later? How bad was your pain a week later? My doc said it should be safe but I would need blood thinners for the flights. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Louie, I'm still in horrendous pain 7 months later but it is very slowly improving. My surgeon has said that this is most likely because I have had this problem for a very long time before surgery. Traveling even in the car for me increases the pain, I've been told because of the g-forces. Everyone is different though so your recovery could be much quicker. Good luck with your op.

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    • Posted

      I have a history of nausea and vomiting after a surgery which I believe wasn’t treated properly. 

      So now with my upcoming surgery, the anesthesia provider wants to treat with anti-inflammatories, IV Tylenol etc and avoid opioids. This is scary as hell for me because I’ve read how bad the post surgical pain can be. How was your pain treated? Does this sound crazy for this surgery? 

      Thank you! 

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    • Posted

      Louie, I take gabapentin as the pain is due to angry, regenerating nerves. Nothing else helps with this pain including Oxycontin. Even the gabapentin will only take the edge off the pain, not stop it. Post surgery I think you definitely inform your surgeon on your pain levels so he or she can decide what is best for you.
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  • Posted

    I thought I would chime in for the sake of others. This site has been nice to refer to! I have had three surgeries this year due to TOS. The first removed a blood clot in the artery in my arm (which began the discovery process of my TOS. Never any prior pain.) Turns out I had cervical ribs which, along with working out, caused crowding. Easy blood clot removal surgery! Then, I spent eight days in the hospital getting Coumadin doses correct (I had aneurisms in both subclavian arteries.) The first surgery to remove the clavicle rib and the first rib (which were jointed together) and have a bipass in the artery, took about three hours. I went home the next day with Percocet ((10mg oxy with 325 acetaminophen.) After a midnight phone call to the nurse they allowed 2 tablets every six hours vs the one every four hours. That worked much better! I am five months post op and the back of my arm and elbow still have tenderness and sensitivity but overall, fantastic recovery..in two weeks I was feeling pretty great. A month ago I had the second surgery. No bipass but both ribs removed again. The pain level for this recovery has been pretty bad. I went to ER to have a recheck because nothing was cutting the night pain! The ultrasound showed fluid under my armpit from the surgery but it was controversial between the vascular surgeons if this would cause additional pain. I have been told "hang in there" it will get better. I am on refill number three already. I was off meds in two weeks the last time except for an occasional night time pill here and there. I still wake up multiple times for pain meds. I slept on the couch for over a week and I still ice at night to curb the pain. At least it isn't unbearable anymore. I do have a gabapentin rx waiting for me to pick up but I'm hopeful to "hang in there" without it. I think the differences in healing comes down to the work done on the operating table. Although my surgeon (who is amazing) said the first surgery was in his top ten most difficult (25+years practicing) the recovery was quick and awesome. The second main surgery he said was easy but the recovery has been a bit of a nightmare. I believe it has to do with how badly the nevers get stretched and bothered. There are so many in this small area. I am hopeful to all going through this that you do your research on the surgeon to get your best result. I am a 53 year old female and pretty fit. I will be on baby aspirin for life now because of the bipass. I am told a year is the true measure of the recovery so I am hopeful to be as good as new. For the recent surgery, my pointer and index finger as well as my palm, have tingling and shooting pains still. I believe it will all take care of itself in time. Good luck to those going through this!! Oh.. and I asked for every possible anti nausea med for the operation and both times I felt great coming out of it (they even gave me a behind the ear patch biggrin

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    • Posted

      Hi Donna, it does seem that it's almost impossible to settle angry nerves and they will calm down when they are good and ready. 8 months post rib removal surgery for me and given the improvement to now, I'm expecting many more months of pain! I'm terrified to get the other side done but know I have to. Good luck with your recovery, as they say, everyone's is different.

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