Pain in the chest from scar tissue from radiation

Hi everyone,

My sister finished her radiation in July. She is having some bad pain under her rib thru her back on the left side. She called her onc and he said it was the scar tissue. One of my sisters is a nurse practitioner and she said the same thing.

My sister was taking Lyrica but did not like that it made her feel so tired all the time. She is taking hydrocortone now once in the am and once at night.

I wanted to hear from those of you that have experienced similar pain for any suggestions that may help her. It is bringing her to tears.

I appreciate all of you as you all have been so good to us by being here for support.

God Bless


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Teri, I am not a medical professional but if this was happening to me, I would want to avoid steroids. Steriods lower the immune system which could cause cancer to spread more easily.

I too have scar tissue from 39 radiation treatments and am experiencing pain that over the counter pain killers couldn't control. The only thing that seems to control it well is oxycodone.

I was prescribed 5 mg tablets and told to take 1 or 2 tablets, every three hours, as needed. I found that 1 tablet didn't help, but 2 seemed to do the trick.

Yes, there are side affects - all drugs have them, but I am not suffering from anything serious and I don't feel impaired.

I hope this info is helpful.

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Thank you Merylee. She is taking Hydrocodone 5-500mg. She takes one in the morning and one at night but she still hurts. She is very worried about getting addicted but I told her she knows the pain is wearing her down so if she was to get addicted we could worry about that later.

I guess she has been hurting for the last 3 days. I didn't know until today. I went over and she broke down about 3 times while I was there. She is getting worn out from the pain.

She goes tomorrow for her Avastin treatment. I am going with her and will her ask him about the oxycodone. If they don't want to give it to her then I will ask for increase of the hydrocone but I am going to fight for the oxycodone. Her nerves are frayed.

She said they didn't tell her she would have pain like this and I had been on the visits with her and they had not said that. They talked more about the discomfort she may have with her throat.

She said if someone asked her today if they should do the radiation or not she would tell them not. Now, she is a fighter so for her to say this I know she has to be hurting alot.

They did have her on steriods about 2 weeks ago for 6 days.

I feel so helpless. I wish I could take some of that pain from her.

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Either they need to increase her meds or give her something for the break through pain. There is no reason for her to suffer like this. It takes away the will to fight.

I hope things get better. She is very lucky to have a sister like you.

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Thanks Merylee. That is exactly what I told her.

She had the infusion of Avastin today but saw no dr. It was setup as an infusion only for today. I did talk to her about oxycordone but she says she doesn't want that. So I talked to the nurse about upping the dosage of the hydrocortone. The nurse said to increase to two tablets and be sure to take every 4 hours. Give it a few days and if not better then to call back and they will try something else. I did not tell the nurse that she did not want oxycordone because if the increase dosage does not work I want to talk to my sister about it again.

This is sad but the issue is not that she is so against but that some other people may help themsleves to it.. Isn't that sad?

I am going to tell her what you said about breaking thru the pain so that you don't give up the will to live because that is what I am very scared about right now. At least today she didn't cry when I was around her. I asked my husband to go with me so we would show support for her and he did and I know she appreciated it.

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Hi Terry,

Just a suggestion that has worked pretty well for me. I take Celebrex and have for several years. It controls the pain 90% of the time with no noted side effects.


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God bless you for supporting your sister.

I had surgery before radiation (37 treatments) and chemo (9 infusions) and have significant chest wall pain that radiates around my side and through to my back. I have been using oxycontin and oxycodone but they don't touch the chest pain. I recently went to the pain clinic where I was told that it was likely nerve pain so the doctor prescribed neurontin. The neurontin helps with the severe nerve pain spikes that I get in my chest area that was radiated but I still need other pain meds so I have started using Tylenlol. Tylenlol in combination with the Neurontin seems to work better on controlling the chest pain. A nurse friend of mine said that if I could tolerate Ibuprofen that I might have more pain relief with it but I cannont stomach it so it's Tylenlol for me.

If your sister can tolerate Ibuprofen/Advil/Aleve, etc. she may have better luck with those as a pain reliever. From what I've learned, chest wall pain is typically caused by inflammation of the tissues and non-steroidal Nsaids like Advil and Aleve are designed to treat inflammation. It's worth a try. Good luck and God Bless you both.


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Teri, I didn't have radiation ,I did have Chemo. I had my right lung removed at the brochis, I have alot of pain, and like Leasha, I take neurontin, at bedtime. I have nerve damage and scar tissue. I take ibuprofen, during the day, I just didn't want to chance becoming addicted to pain meds., personal choice.I just had my 3 year CT and all is clear,and I'm enjoying my grandkids . I hope your sister finds what works for her. I will pray for her.

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I must ask where you got the information that steriods cause the cancer to spread. That is a pretty powerful statement.

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Thanks to all of you for your input. My sister sent me an email this am that she did speak to the radiologist's nurse and she said Esther should not be hurting like that and she was going to speak to dr and call her back.

Esther said she did take two of the hydrocordone like the nurse told her to yesterday and she did sleep but Ithink she thinks she will be in a haze if she continues with it so she is looking for other solutions. Maybe they will suggest this neurontin.

I am so scared because she tells me she will not live the rest of her life sleeping and I understand that but you do have to get some rest to allow your body to heal. Her sleeping was due to the meds letting her finally to relax enough to get some much needed sleep. I told her she was physically, emotionally and mentally drained. That we are human and not super human where we don't need help at times to cope.

I have let the others in my family know what is happening and have asked them to rally around her. I feel like she will slip thru my hands and I by myself can not pull her out of it. Lord, please help me.

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The radiologist checked the last ct scan and chest xray and can find nothing that should be causing her this pain. They referred her to either her primary care or pulmonologist for possible nerve damage or pluercy(spelling?). She has an appt at 1030 Friday am with the pulmonologist. I will meet her there.

Hope they can help her for whatever it is. Sorry I sound panicky but I am. But I will be strong for her and not let her see how worried I am.

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Get that pain under control. Nobody should suffer like that. If she is not comfortable her body is stressed and can't fight bad things like cancer. Tell her to take all the meds she needs to be comfortable so that her body can work for her.

I hope you get this worked out. You're a good sister. I'll pray for you.

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Sandybeach, I NEVER said that steroids cause cancer to spread.

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Hi Teri,
I am so glad to hear someone else is having the same symptoms...not happy for your sister because this is very painful. I too have been having severe pain since my last radiation in March. I have tried Celebrex, Lyrica, nueronton and have been on 40 mg of oxy 3 times a day with 5 mgs of hydro for breakthrough, been to a cardiologist, dermatologist, pulmonologist and 2 pain specialists, nothing has worked and everyone says it is nerve damage. It radiates from my chest up to my neck and shoulder, sometimes feels like a 101/2 on a pain scale. If you find something that works please let me know, I would love to have one peaceful night. The onc says the tumor is stable and the last two scans show this so they cannot figure out where and why the pain persists. My chest has even turned black and blue a few times. The docs have suggested morphine for the pain but I have trouble breathing on morphine and do not like that drug at all. I have tried Tylenol and docs say I can't use other OTC because they interfere with cumidin. I hope your sister finds relief and please let me know what brought the relief. Thank you.

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You bet I will let you know what the pulmonologist says Friday about the pain in my sister's chest. You all have been a big help to me and I will always return the favor.

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Please do not think I was glad to hear of your sisters pain...far from that..I was jut glad to hear someone else is having the same problem and maybe between us we can find relief.

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My hubby (IIIB) took Norco daily for pain. The surgeon not only removed 30% of his upper right lobe and some lymphnodes, but also a rib and sawed through others that were fused together due to numerous old hockey injuries when he played for the Jr. Redwings (before helmets were used). He still takes Norco (16 mos post operation), mostly now for back pain due to disc problems.

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I take hydrocodone 10 mg./500 and morphine 60 mg. I hate the morphine and am now being weened off of it. the pain is worse as the dose of morphine is now 45 mg. 2x day. i find that a heating pad helps some, ibuprofen helps along with the pain meds. Its odd but my oncologist says I shouldnt be in that much pain and my pulmonary doctor is the one who explained to me what was going on. Pulmonary doc says he doesnt understand why the oncologist wanted me off the pain meds when ct scans show that i have radiation pneumonia. If any of my dr.s ever agreed on anything that would be a bigger surprise.

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im sorry i take oxycodone..10 mg. hydrocodone didnt work for me as well. about the sleepyness from the pain meds. once she gets used to the pain meds and adjusts that will go away. tell her this please. she will adjust to it. in the meantime if shes tired dont fight it get plenty of rest. its her body's way of healing. I too have teens in and out of my house and with all you read about prescription drugs and teens today..i decided to take no chances. (it's not just my own kids that have been in and out) i keep it in a lock box. The pain will cause anyone to want to give up and will help cause depression. No one should be in pain and no doctor should ignore this. I was very upset with my oncologist and my ct scan wasnt showed scarring and the pneumonititis so if one doc doesnt get it....then be sure to tell her to talk to her family doctor. I have found there are doctors out there terrified to write out pain med prescriptions, truthfully. so they will write off what u tell them as over dramatization. Then there are doctors out there who will take one look at you and know your not exaggerating. She should be getting help with this but sometimes it feels like its just not worth the battle to get help for pain. well it is. it can change your life. help you feel more like your old self and able to lead a more quality of life. good luck and GOD BLESS you all.

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I know you meant and it means so much to me that so many of you have replied to me.

Robin, right now she doesn't want the oxycotin. She will stay with the hydrocodone but take when she has the pain each time instead of trying to be a martyr that it is only mind over matter.

The onc and radiologist were mainly concerned on how her throat was doing. The radiologist did say her lung had scarring but that was it. So what. I have a scarring from a c section but it doesn't hurt like that so it took the pulmonologist to explain the pneumonitis and fibrosis.

He has given her a steroid inhaler to help slow the inflamation from turning into scar tissue. It may or may not work. She will try that for two months and then report back to him. He also told her the pain will probably last from 6 months to a year.

Now that she understands what is happening and what to expect she feels she can cope with it better. I reminded her that while she is 110% better than she was back in Jan she is not back like she used to be and probably will never be. The body has taken a big toll with the disease and treatment. But that she has take to her pain meds to help her rest to help her get her strength and cope with this madness.

What I don't like now is that I have read where this will turn into pulmonary fibrosis and she will probably have trouble breathing down the road.

I told her to let the housework go. If she has to wash her some clothes then do so and forget the rest. Who cares? I didn't tell her but I plan for my daughter and I to go by there Monday and do some housework for her.

I did ask him about hyperbaric oxygen therapy but he said it is unproven and not recommended (maybe not until you have pulmonary fibrosis. who knows.) This was the first time for me to meet him and he seemed like he knew what he was talking about and made sure we understood what he was telling us.

Since her primary dr failed to catch this back in August she is looking for a primary care. The pulmonologist did give me 3 names so we will research them.

I am going on a trip next weekend and I feel better about leaving than I did before we saw the doc today. My sister was in a better state of mind when we left there and that is what is important to me.

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