How long does pain last after lobe removal?

I had surgery May 2, 08 to remove the upper lobe of my left lung. The surgery was done after radiation and chemo treatments. I then had follow-up chemo that was called 'mop-up' by my doctor. I still have pain that is almost unbearable in my chest and back. How long will this last? Also I have to wear oxygen 24/7.

Report post

37 replies. Join the discussion

I had surgery June 17, 08 to remove the upper R lobe, then I had 4 rounds of "prophalactic" chemo. (NSCLC IIIB)
I was on oxygen for 3 months. Now I have a daily inhaler and a rescue inhaler to help me breathe.The first 4 months after surgery I was in constant high level pain then it gradually subsided. I still have mid grade pain in my upper right area front and back. My surgeon sent me to a pain management Dr who has prescribed Neurontin which I understand may not work. The alternative was to have a nerve block done (which also may not work). Anyway, she told me there is nerve damage from the surgery and that the body is trying to reset itself. Sometimes this takes a very long time.
Hope this at least gives you some hope.
Hang in there ...

Report post

wow i just got good news i dont have cancer in my linf nodes and i'm good for surgery thay want to take my left lobe out next thursday i dont want to be in pain for months what should i exspect hope you feel better soon angela i'm 41 maybe i can heal faster

Report post

Avoid most of the pain by having a VATS procedure. Believe me (and the others who have had this procedure), minimally invasive surgery is the way to go.

Courage

Chum

Report post

Minimally invasive, surgery can not always be done when removing parts of the lung or any thorasic surgery for that matter. You must realize that there are instances that they may need to have full access in there especially when removing tumors and cancer. Actually I doubt any surgeon would do it that way when removing an upper left lobe.

Getting to the original pain post, there may very well be excessive nerve damage from the surgery. For example, my mother just had her upper left lobe resected and the nerve to one of her vocal cords was cut in the process. She has lost her voice almost permanently now from the surgery. I had the proceedure done 5 years ago, and the front bottom of my left side ribs were numb for a couple years, and there was pain from the numbness. It drove me nuts. The crazy pain subsided after few months but the numbness stayed.

Report post

I did not have Chemo or radiation, but my mother will have both as soon as she is healed properly.

Report post

I had the open surgery even though plan was to go with VATs. Yes it's painful but I was walking a couple of miles 2 weeks post op and back to gym full time a month later. Back to work in two months. I did overdo it and ended injuring my arm but walking and moving is key to recovery!! Walk walk walk! I only had oxygen for 2 days in hospital and luckily never developed a cough but I never smoked so i don't know if that is a factor or not. I still have pain and tightness spasms, etc. but i function at the same level as before surgery but with constant discomfort. Acupuncture also helped alleviate some of my pain.After surgery, make sure to use vitamin E cream on a daily basis and massage in to the incision. Stretching and massage is important in preventing scar tisue. l also use a cool air humidider at night because i live in the NE and the cold, dry air is a killer. Good luck

Report post

My upper left lobe was removal in '05, in which they did a controlled break in my ribs. My lung collapsed (not unusual) as they removed the tumor and biopsied it... but slowly over the next year I was pain free, but my lower left breast was numb. They have to cut some nerves to get to your lung. Oxygen was never needed. For females....WEARING A BRA STILL HURTS!!!!.
Last year a VAT was attemped on my right lung but the many tumors were too tiny to get to so I had another thoracotomy. The right ribs and breast are still numb. Surgery is major and pray for no complications. I get plenty of sun, walk daily, climb stairs lots, am out of breath slightly, sleep poorly and go to an "old farts" exercise class. My back scars are still sensitive but I feel fortunate to feel so good for Stage IV. Living without bras (even an sports bra) is a challenge.
May God bless you and the surgeon on Thursday. Cynthia from MO

Report post

Pain and recovery are notoriously variable. I am a 67 year old sedentary male (but I haven’t had a cigarette in 40 years). I had the upper lobe of my right lung removed on November 17, 2008 (Pathology says the tumor was 1B adenocarcinoma). After two unpleasant days in the hospital I was released. There was some rib and back pain but it was easily controlled by the drugs provided (Tramadol and Hydrococone). By Christmas I was back doing yardwork. I am now undergoing chemo. I’ve had two back operations and a knee replacement all of which were significantly more painful and had much longer recovery times. So there’s a good chance you’ll be up and running quickly. One piece of advice, cooperate with the therapists, in the hospital and out. Get out of bed quickly and do your breathing and walking exercises while they have you doped up. Push youself as hard as you can. It will be difficult but waiting will only make it harder and more painful

Report post

I had URL lobectomy adenocarcinoma, Stage 1B in November 2000. I had extreme situation, at age 76. severe COPD, 2 months after major 9 hour surgery, living in high altitude, etc.

Recalling that era, I recovered quickly. little problems. Today, living at lower altitude, I sleep on incision full time (to aid in breathing), walk a fast mile (at least) daily, take normal COPD medications, am not on any oxygen, occasionally feel a slight tinge of pain stretching, in incision area.

You should do well in a short time, (especially with VATS) probably no evidence you had surgery.

Report post

I had the big surgery, not VATS, on Nov 17th 2008 - to remove my lower left lobe. So i have been healing for almost 3 months now. I will tell you, its pure hell the first week straight out of surgery. I did not need any rounds of chemo, thank God, but the healing time takes a while. I couldnt have VATS due to where the tumor was, and they were not sure how much they would have to remove. At first, its really hard to take in deep breaths. Things like lifting your arm up on your surgery side really suck, its painful. Not being able to sleep on the side of surgery is a real pain in the butt, you feel stuck. Wearing a bra for the first month was sooooo out of the question. I would wake up with the weirdest pain in my left side, like a stabbing horrid pain and i would lay and grunt and for a half an hour grasping for my pain pills until they would kick in. I will tell you something that you might not believe at first, but each day gets better. It really does. I figured this out, and when i woke up feeling like crap the only thing that kept me from crying in bed was that- just knowing tomorrow is going to be better than right now. Each tomorrow got better and better. I am now only out of breath when i am up doing things, that is getting better slowly- and the scar hurts from time to time. I am completely numb around the scar area and under my arm and half of my left breast. i get the weird pins and needles in the numbness everyonce in a while. Yes this whole thing sucks but just remember no matter how crappy it is today, tomorrow will suck just a little less!!!

Report post

I had my upper right lobe removed back in Aug 05. They went thru my back and also removed a rib. - would imagine they did the same for you. It took a while for the pain to subside. Mine came back in Feb 06 and had Chemo and radiation until Aug 06 and am now clear with 6 month check ups. I found an Activator (Chiropractor) that does only the pressure points and he has straightened out my body with excellent results. I take Cucumin with bioperin (a spice) for any pain. Be patient...and keep happy thoughts. Takes time for nerve endings and cell renewal. Hugs

Report post

Hi Mangoloa
i so agree with all you say i only had my surgey (I also had large surgery for removal of my lower left lobe) in Nov 2009 and every day is better most of the pain is gone from the lung and the scar but I note no one has said anything about having pain in their arm my lefr arm was sore before ib got diagnosed and as ervery day goes by it is getting sorer and sorer I am actually going to my doctor today to see if I can get some stronger pain relief as I wait to see another specialist. It seems strange that the very pain that took me to the hospital where I by accident was diagmosed with lung cancer is the only pain I now have onyly 10 times worse any one have any thoughts on this .
Cher22

Report post

hey Cher22.. so we are both lobeless on the left lower side. ha.. fun to say- anyways, your arm i would guess is part of the cut nerves they go through. I know now i am dealing with all sorts of weird stuff i never dealt with before- pins and needles, numbness, aches and weird stabbing stinging pains. Good luck with that arm pain, hey every day is a learning experience for all of us!

Report post

God Bless to all,

I sure know how you all feel. I have been blessed to be a 20 year cancer surviour. I lost my right lung to a cancerous turmour and 4 lmyph nodes. I had phenomia and coughing up blood. I was on IV's for about a week before the fever broke and they could do surgery.

After surgery I dependent a lot on my left side as far as leaning and such since that is were my strength was at.

I had a hard time with those needle and pins feelings too. However I had pain on my left side of my arm too and I couldn't get a doctor to understand since the surgery was on the right. I had upper chest pain and very sensitivity both back and front. They did 30 days of radiation treatments after my surgery.

2 weeks into it I was internally burnt that I could not take it anymore they had to stop. But they said after a week I had to return and I got nausea from it. They do not tell you all the bad stuff about it at least they didn't 20 years ago. Plus there was rehibiliation of any kind and if I had some kind of guideness or help I think a lot of things could of been avoided and I would be able to have gone back to work and not on disability.

As of today I still suffer upper muscle and nerve damage and forget wearing a bra..just to poke me hurts and right in the middle of my chest make me holler. I am partially numb like feeling on my right side and from the scare in the back of my ribs that runs all the way to almost under my arm pit.

My radiation was from a line on my neck to below my chest. About 6 years ago my left vocal cord parlazed on me and it was said from radiation. I have scarred damaged to my airway passage that over the years has calcuim build up and which has made it more narrow and calcium in my chest walls.

I have to use a bi-pap machine at night and 2 liters of oxyen to keep my airway passage open so I can breathe right. It used to be in the mornings I could not get around and it seems like I could not get enough air. That was because at night my airway passage was narrowing to much and I wasn't getting enough oxgen. My shoulders still draw up and after all these years it doesn't look like it will stop. The more I stand, walk, or sit too long the more it does it and then the pain worsens more.

So to all I wish you God Blessings and for those who have been able to get through without much pain or get back to life and am so glad for you.

I don't know what they do today about giving out information about radiation but I hope the doctors own up to all the possibilities to their patients.

I was not taken seriously and doctors didn't know what to do with me. I even had one doctor tell me in a mean way that all I had to do is get out and walk. Radiation is just as dangerous as chemo in my mind.

With all the radiation damages I still feel very Blessed that God chose me to live here another day on this earth. Radiation can not damage my soul! Have a Blessed Day to all...

Report post

Yes, I forgot about "the bra problem". I found that the largest Spanx bra you can find worked just fine. Gave enough (though minimal) support, but didn't aggravate the area which was incised too much. And if you have a cath-a-port installed, just tape your bra strap over to the side so it doesn't rest on top of the port.

Report post

I am almost three years out and still have terrible arm pain if I stretch or use it too much. If I get real tired I feel like a hatchet is in my back. My rt breast is all numb on the bottom and sometimes it hurts alot. I was told that they stretch your arm way up and behind your head while doing the surgery. It causes alot of damage to the nerves. No medicine has helped like neurontin, etc. I am still getting used to not doing much and thanking God everyday that I am here and cancer free. I wouldnt hesitate to do the lobectomy again. Surgery is your best chance for a cure. Dianne

Report post

sweet

Are you being treated by any pain management team? That is the most important thing for you now.

I had two surgeries and the second surgery was worse than the first as far as pain goes. I was introduced to the pain specialist and they are like meeting the Lord himself. They really do help alot with the pain. You should not have this going on right now without being treated. You need to have a good quality of life.

Ask your surgeon if you can get some help with the pain.

Good luck and keep us posted.

God bless,
Linda

Report post

I had my upper left lobe removed by VATS last October and was back at work the next week.

Report post

Certainly a lot of experiences being posted. Here's my story.
Stage 3b - underwent right upper lobectomy on Oct 6, 2008 after 18 chemo and 35 radiation (starting from Dec 2007).
Thank God that I didn't suffer much except for first month. Started driving around X'mas and now 4 months after the operation I am "near normal". Do have front chest numbness and the occasional twitch but not much pain. No difficulty breathing.
Did breathing exercise during first month but no strenuous exercise until 3.5 months after operation.
Suggest consider Tai Chi exercise - really great for breathing and stretching muscles.
Believe in the Lord and prayers help.
God Bless All.

Report post

There is NO comparison between VATS and open.

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Photo of Dave Grant

The Lung Cancer Survivors Support Community has provided support for patients, caregivers, families and friends since 2006. We welcome over 600 new members every month in the fight against lung cancer.

ALK mutations and lung cancer

Join the discussion about ALK mutations and lung cancer

Things you can do

Discussion topics

Community leaders