Muscle spasms after VAT upper left lobe

I had the upper portion of my left lung removed on Dec 28. Was discharged from the hospital on Jan 2, had several small episodes where the muscle would spasm in the diaphram area, creating a stabbing pain and make if feel like I'd had the wind knocked out of me and I couldn't get a breath until the spasms subsided.

After arriving home I realized that it wasn't as simple as I had anticipated (I'm a bilateral below knee amputee) in transferring as I usually do. I couldn't get off of the toilet without causing spasms and they intensified to the point where I had a panic attack along with the spasm because of the intense pain and not being able to breathe (lasted about 5 - 8 min). We ended up calling 911 in the middle of the night, I couldn't move without the spasms recurring and the pain was intense. The muscle would twitch in between the spasms, occasionally triggering a spasm that'd feel like a knife stick and take my breath (I'd also let out a reflexive yell). The doctor believes that it's a nerve cut during the surgery and is irritated, triggering the muscle to spasm. The worst was in the ER, even after having an IV placed and being administered morphine, tramadol, flexeril, and valium! It lasted 10 -15 minutes and was more painful than childbirth (louder too!). The entire ordeal was so horrifying and I was wondering if anyone else had a similar experience.

I'm currently home again and on oxycodone, valium, flexeril, and methocarbamol. I still get occasional spasms but much more mild, the muscle also occasionally twitches and I take some flexeril.

So scary!! I'd appreciate any feedback anyone has!


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Dear Christi
I also have muscle spasms and twitching but mine are not quite as bad as yours (bilobectomy/thoracotomy 11/29, chest tube out 12/23) I am on methocarbamol for that. I tried to phase those out too soon and that was not fun.
I only wanted to let you know you are not alone.
I hope it improves for you-soon!

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Hang in there. I had the open surgery 2.5 years ago and still have spasms, pain and tightness., I don' /think it is as common with VATS but i guess nerve damage can occur with any surgical procedure. I find that being sedentary is my worst enemy! Walk and stay active! Yoga helps too! Reality is that the body takes time to recover and you have to be patient!

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Dear Christi

I also had VATS, upper left lung surgery.:

I still get that pain once in a while and it is always sudden and sharp. As a matter of fact I am currently in physical therapy and that is one of the concerns I am addressing, although it doesn't happen very often. It happens when I suddenly twist to the side. I must say though that I've never had one that lasted 10-15 minutes (mine are of much shorter duration).

What I do when it comes is I just take slow deep breaths. It's far less frightening to me than it was initially because I know it's going to stop. It does hurt though.

Hang in there.


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I had surgery 1-1/2 yrs ago. I still have spasms usually when I am reaching or twisting for something or after sitting for long periods. I also have problems with my left arm. It's hard to pinpoint but like a nerve out of whack. My doctors tell me to have patience, it will get better. I am overweight and need to start a consistent exercise program. I believe that will help...I feel sore/bruised after keeping my 1 year old grandbaby ...lifting, carting and chasing my angel around! :) But that emphasizes to me that I need to make time for more exercise!!

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I only had rads and chemo which ended November 08. The spasms began in the upper torso shortly after Prednisone and they are dangerous. Come on while driving down the road. Actually drove off the road when one hit me.

I haven't been on Pred for almost a year except for one week so don't know what is causing it and apparently a host of doctors don't either or they just don't care.. I couldn't decide if a kidney stone was worse than childbirth and now the winner is the unexpected muscle spasm. Had one in the PET machine Thursday but had taken half of a Percocet to suppress my coughing so I wouldn't move in the unit.

I love to know how to stop the evil things.

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I had upper left lobe taken out July, 2009. I have tightness on the upper left side of my chest and also twinges..My left breast also feels strange and tight...Do any of you women out there have this feeling also???

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Yes, evil indeed. Hiccups are murderous as is any quick intake of breath. I am now 13 days post op and ended up doing 5 loads of laundry because my husband and older son had simply left it. I'm exhausted and sore tonight and hadn't taking any meds since the morning so that I could get this done (makes me so tired and lowers blood pressure). Hoping it won't make my night terrible!

My heart goes out to all of you with this pain, it's so terribly unfair.


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Don't do the laundry. You are doing much better than you think if you are 2 weeks post op and able to think about laundry. I was able to get myself a cup of tea after 2 weeks. Take it easy on yourself. God Bless.


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yes to your questions. my right breast and underneath as well as my right arm has been affected.

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Denise, I was in search of panties and found the laundry room in such a state that I broke into tears! It wasn't by choice that I did the laundry - it was out of necessity and fueled by a lot of anger!

My payback will be buying new curtains for the bedroom while my cousin comes to visit :) If there's a time in the future when my husband needs to step up to the plate again, I hope that he'll remember what the ultimate price was lol!

Those of you who had the VATS, how long did it take for you to recover post op? I have a little different situation in that I have to load my wheelchair in my car manually so the weight will be an issue for a while - as are the pain meds. I still have some scabbing on the chest tube incision but the others have healed over. The swelling is for the most part gone - sore and still bruised.

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As soon as the scab heals over, get lidoderm patches...they are a life saver and take vitamin B complex - it helps nerves heal properly. If I don't take it, I feel like I was slashed all over the front of my chest. You are so dependent on those arms for must be very sore. I had my surgery in August and couldn't even push up on my arms to get out of a chair for over a month. I know why you did the wash...I did the same with my bathroom, but I am hoping that you only did your own laundry. There are trash bags to hide the rest from view LOL. Then you don't have to be upset over looking at them. Our idea of clean and in order differs from that of our men. It is hard to sit and not fix it, however you will pay for it for the next few days and it might not have been worth it! I like Alleve and Mortin for the pain as well. Still take Vicodin at night. Going to physical therapy helps so much. Massage helps and they are desensitizing my incisions. I go to an aquahab so half of my therapy is in a warm pool...heaven. Do you have prostheses or are you wheelchair bound? I agree that exercise helps eventually. Deconditioning makes everything worse. Hang in there!

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I'm still on the meds for the spasms so taking Robaxin and Flexeril with Valium and Oxycodone. I haven't taken much of the Flexeril but am trying to keep up with at least 2 doses of the Robaxin a day. I get so terribly sleepy so would rather not take anything but Tylenol but doc wants me to keep up with the pain meds so that I keep breathing as deeply as I'm able. You hardly notice that you're "holding back" until you start blowing into the whatchamacallit to measure volume.

I did everyone's laundry but left my older son's and husband's for them to sort out and fold. The two little ones didn't have any socks or undies and hardly any pants to wear! Nor did I have any clean bedding! The cleaning ladies come next Wednesday so we'll all have fresh sheets, but I have been so sensitive to smell that I had to change my sheets after only a few days (I think the smell from one of the creams wasn't agreeing with me). But my cousin, the calvary, will be arriving in the morning and will have them all whipped into shape soon!! I'm in order issuing mode - my husband left to go back to CA early this morning so I had early morning duty with the little kids, got them off to school, took my meds, and slept the rest of the morning.

I'll take your advice on the Vit B complex. I've already switched from drinking coffee to green tea and feel a huge difference.

Be well :)

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Little changes add up eventually. It does take time. You sound like a strong and determined lady. I hope that you feel better soon!

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I don't believe them regarding the laundry. Are they trainable? I think I saw a demo of monkeys doing laundry. They did have to be provided with the correct amount of detergent, etc.

Don't let them get away with will be never ending. Right now it is all about you and your health. And then: it's about their @#$%^&*(&*
attitude. As you can tell, I have had experience with this. When my teenager said she did like doing something, I told her it was not necessary for her to like it, but merely to do.

When you begin to feel better, don't let them know.And I do hope you begin to feel much better and very soon.

Take care of yourself only for now and then you can rethink the situation.

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It's January 15th and I hope you have cleaner clothes and less pain. I wasn't able to do laundry for a month, but I found I was able to yell at my husband right away! (smile, sigh, mental head slap) men do things differently. I had to learn all about different being OK while I was down after surgery. As long as everybody tried I was happy.

Hope you feel better each day!

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Same here! I actually had an episode the other day of lowered blood pressure had to get the doc out- (i am a month post surgery~) does that happen because your overdoing it?x

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Re breast discomfort, I had lrl open lobectomy in August 2010. I am recovering well but have the same experience in my right breast. It is tender to touch, feels as if it is swollen but there is no physical sign of anything at all. The surgeon says it is almost certainly neuropathic but to have it checked out and not to assume that because it is on the same side it is related to the surgery although it most likely is. I will see my GP next week but I am not too worried about it.

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i had terible spasms before vats in arms you could see them beat like a heart,onc said it wasnt caused by cancer general doc said it was telling my body that something was wrong,Anyway after vats they have subsided alot just twitching now and then,general doc said take some magisium vitimins and seem like they have helped,might want to try them,But they sure make you poop alot

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I had upper left lobectomy also in July 09. Still tight & painful under left breast & at incision in the back. Lyrica 100mg 1 x a day. Takes the edge off a little. Just cant do what I used to. Pain mgt. Dr. said it might go away some day or it might not. Hope you start feeling better soon!

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I was not being critical. Just saying, don't do so much. You have to think of yourself. No matter how you look at it, this stuff hurts for a while. I'm still very sore from my lobectomy in late Sept. I just went back to work two weeks ago. God Bless You and hope you have a very speedy recovery!


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