Post Op - How long will muscle stiffness last?

Posted , 3 users are following.

My first rib resection was done on November 20th, 2017.  The surgeon believes that it is at 80% and may remain at 80%.  The operative side was injured for 14 years before I was diagnosed and operated on.  My question is: Will the stiffness and weakness that I feel in my neck and down my arm improve? Does it take 6 months to a year to really feel total improvement.  I am an obedient PT patient.  I am not back to work yet because 

 I have bilateral TOS - YEAH! - and will recieve the ladocaine injection in 2 weeks followed by surgery.  I'm kinda nervous about my right side not returning to 100%.

Advice? Suggestions? 

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    I had the surgery about 2 years ago on my left side. I still have some nerve damage and tingling but it's usually when I sleep weird on my arm. For the most part, I think  it just takes a while for the nerves to heal and to get comfortable in their new home. PT is wonderful for TOS, for sure! I'm still working on my strength in that arm but, to be honest, my left arm has ALWAYS been weaker than my right because I'm right handed. Occasionally I will get stiff as well but typically a muscle relaxant at night helps with that, along with sleep.

    I don't need surgery on my right, yet. My cervical rib on that side is considerably smaller. I'm just glad to get rid of the pain! It was crippling. If you keep up with the PT and keep up with light weights, I have no doubt that you can get back to your old self. I even forget I have TOS sometimes, THAT's how good it's been for me!!! I wish you the same luck!

    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply and being able to relate.  After suffering from the crippling pain - I am scared of feeling that ever again. I did speak to the surgeon's assistant this evening and she said that there are options to treating this sensation.  She recommended acupuncture and to avoid the chiropractor and to remain a good PT patient.  They would be happy to see me this week too.  I am very very very happy with the John Hopkins Team.

      You have put me at ease - I appreciate your reply.  Did you ever see a neurosurgeon?  My surgeon was a vascular surgeon.

    • Posted

      No, I actually saw a vascular surgeon as well. It was suggested at one time but after I saw my physiotherapist for the electro-shock checks she automatically referred me to the surgeon who had done TONS of them. LMAO did you get a pain pump afterwards? SO WILD!!!

      Acupuncture is probably the ONLY thing that made a HUGE difference/dent in the pain. I found an excellent acupuncturist. The only down side was that I really needed to see her at least 2x a week. This gets difficult, especially dealing with insurance and her business hours. Warning... At FIRST it may be painful. This will likely last only a day, possibly 2, but afterwards it was like MAGIC! I was like... Holy Crap, She FIXED me!!! I TOTALLY get the fear of pain. I have it too! It's like PTSD from the crippling pain.

      John Hopkins IS the BEST!!! You are in good hands and they definitely know what they are doing.

    • Posted

      HI Snowcraher,

      Did you also have a pec minor release?  I am curious because I think that might be the problem.  

      My symptoms have returned the past two weeks since my Nov. 20th surgery.  The past five days - Shew - are straight up back to aching like heck and my hand is going cold.  Ugh

      I see the acupuncturist this week. He is also a chiropractor.  Thanks so much.  Enjoy your weekend.

    • Posted

      To be honest, I'm not completely sure. I believe so. I was in such pain I didn't ask many questions and I was too f%$#*ed up after to remember to ask. I'm under the impression that his M.O. is exactly that. I actually do, semi-remember, asking him at a follow-up appointment because I had watched the surgery online and was wondering if he did the same thing. His answer was, "Yes."

      You're healing sounds much like mine. Don't get discouraged by setbacks. You will have your ups and downs throughout the healing process. This was MY experience so don't fret it. I definitely remember the cold hand and also dropping things, forgetting that hand is still lame. I would also have periods of pain that would last shortly. I UNDERSTAND completely because the fear of pain is such a PTSD thing. I would think, "Oh, God! Did it NOT work? Was the surgery in vain? The answer long-term was a finite YES the surgery worked, and NO it wasn't a waste of time!

      Just stick with it. Don't let these setbacks get you down. Think of it as part of the annoying and very long healing processes. I have faith that you'll recover, like myself. It get's depressing when these setbacks happen and I remember having SUCH anxiety over it. I got through it every time and would almost kick myself saying to myself, "Ye of little faith, Stephanie!"

      Keep on, keeping on. Keep me updated and if you EVER need someone to vent to or ask questions, I'm here for you. It's QUITE the process... It's NOT like like other surgeries in this respect. My bf who is a neurosurgeon was SOOOO impressed that I had that surgery saying, "THAT is a MAJOR surgery!!!!" It IS!!! It's a process. I believe because it has to do with with your arm/hand which you are conscious of constantly and also it's nerves. Nerves are tricky little devils, not like a broken bone or flesh wound.

      You're a trooper! You are doing really well and you are doing everything right. So, I'll say to you... Ye of little faith, Yolonda! You're okay! It WILL get better. Patience is a hard thing to swallow. 

      All the best!!


  • Posted

    Thanks again.  Margaret Arnold did my surgery. It took me 7 weeks to get in to meet her as opposed to 11 weeks to see Dr. Lum.

    I will schedule acupuncture tomorrow 😊 

    I can't thank you enough. 

  • Posted


    I've had the TOS surgery in march 2016, and two years later, I still have some weird sensations on my neck and collarbone. I've had my first rib removed, also anterior and median scalene muscles, and my left external jugular vein, although, I'm not sure that this was related to my TOS. Still not sure why my surgeon removed the EJV.

    Anyway, I've also had complications after the surgery, winged scapulae and elevated hemidiaphragm (my phrenic nerve has probably damaged, and caused a diaphragm paralysis). Three days after the surgery, I developed problem breathing, and it was pretty hard to get over this. After 3 weeks I begun physiotherapy and exactly two months later I was playing squash and tennis. The breathing returned to normal, I begun to go hiking and do all sort of things. About 8-9 months later the winged scapula returned to normal, and after a year or so, I was finally able to raise my left hand straight up. I couldn't do that before. I'd say the first 3 weeks after the surgery were the worst, 24h/day for 3 weeks of nonstop pain and heavy breathing, but I'm sure it's not that bad for all. Still, two years later, I still have tingling on the neck, chin, and I can't carry a backpack on the left shoulder. Sometimes, out of the blue, I get 1-2 days of discomfort or pain that sometimes radiate on my arm just like it was after surgery. I think it mostly happens when the weather gets worst. My advice, never give up!!! Listen to your doctor, and also do exercises and physio. Even if there are some weird sensations left, you get used to it and don't even notice later. All the best to you.

  • Posted

    I forgot to say that I've taken Milgamma among other medicine, which is a B vitamin complex and helps in healing the nerves endings. But I'm sure that your doctors gave you the best cure. You had access to one of the best teams probably. I did my surgery in Romania, and even if my surgeon is regarded as one of the best, I'm sure that it cannot compare to the team at John Hopkins.So, you'll be fine smile I hope that you will improve a lot faster than I did.

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