Tightness aroun chest...

I had my upper right lobectomy in July of 2005. I thought by now I would only have a scar to remind me of the surgery-WRONG! Aside from the mental/emotional concerns I have this feeling of tightness around my chest. It feels like I need to unhook a too tight bra(ok guys, stay with me here)only I am not wearing a bra. Anyone else have this problem?

Carol

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Hi Carol,

I'm only 5 months out, but I know exactly what you're talking about!! And I described it as a feeling like wearing a bra too tight, only on the inside!!! Also, a little hard to put into words, but I also have these "stinging"/"pinching" sensations in my lung and around the incision sites.

Have you had this feeling at onset of your surgery, or have they just started recently? For me, the "bra" feeling has pretty much been with me ever since I had surgery......, maybe you'll get a few more posts, and we can both figure out what's going on!!! Take care and God Bless. Deb

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I think tightness is a classic result of scar tissue....not just a lobectomy.

Have you asked your surgeon about this?

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Hi Carol

I hope that you scar area isn't giving you a lot of pain.
I PM you the other day and I thought I would elaborate a little more on my healing process.
My surgery was in September of 2005. I have the tightness on my right side and the sudden stinging like an electric shock. I remember about six months after the surgery the stinging sensation was terrible. Now the stinging doesn’t happen as often. When I take a deep breath I have this feeling of resistance toward the bottom right lobe and rib area. There are times that I have pain in the middle of my chest near the mediastinum. Sometimes the senses and nerves on my right side are very sensitive. I question what is going on and when is it going to end. Our bodies was put through something pretty traumatic and in your surgery they removed a rib.

Yep! It does feel like I have on a bra two sizes to small and that elastic can’t stretch any more. Once about eight months after my surgery I was so sore I couldn’t lay on my right side for two weeks. My husband said that I shouldn’t have wash down the walls in the family room. So now he gets that job. LOL

I have gained over 25 lbs. and I am not as active as I once was which I think has taken a toll on my body. I do try to walk a half an hour on the tread mill. As far as other activities I have to tackle them a little slower, because of SOB. There is never a day goes by that I am not aware of having the surgery, but most of the time it does not bother me. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give my discomfort a 3, which I can live with. Maybe these aches and pains is something that is going to stay with us. I know that feeling of wondering whether this is suppose to be the norm for the healing process.

It seems that we survivors on the internet are the only source of info for many questions. Thank GOD for this message board and other sites that gives us support.

Mary Ann

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Thank you all for replying to my post. My discomfort is not pain from the surgical scar. Nor do I think it is the thoracotomy syndrome that Dr. West wrote about on his site, which sounds extremely painful. What I have is discomfort and tightness around the area of the scar and my chest. It did not help that I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy where the surgeon left a towel in a womans chest after lung surgery. Though I know that did not happen to me I just feel undefined pressure. It feels like it could be scar tissue growing and pushing out against my ribs from within. On the outside of my ribs it feels like a belt sometimes that gets tighter and tighter. I also have gained a LOT of weight. I used to be the skinny girl that everyone hated because I could eat and drink anything I wanted and not gain weight. I have put on 40 pounds and I am not on medication. I think I have spent a little too much time in my recliner. I am going to work on losing this weight and maybe that will help. I am so grateful to be doing as well as I am that I don't even want to complain. I just don't want to be scared that something is wrong with me, you know wrong as in cancer. related wrong.
Carol

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Hi Carol,

I also have the tighthess around my chest like a tight bra. When I do try to wear a bra(loosely) I seem to swell also. I also have the itchy/tingling in the area of the incision and some numbness. Since I have gained 40 lbs also and was also the little skinny girl I was wondering if the extra weight had something to do with it. Now that the weather is warmer I am going to try to walk and see if I can lose some of it. Also I think walking can help with the sob. I had my upper right lobectomy in Feb of 2006.

meadview

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Hi All,

I had my lobectomy (URL) in Nov. 2000, and I still feel a pulling sensation when I raise my arm or stretch. I've accepted it as a small price to pay for survival.

HighlandGuy, age 83

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Hope this doesn't blow all the chest tightness discussion out of the water. I have many of
the same symptoms, BUT, I have not had surgery. I am stage IIIC, large tumor upper right lobe,
chest cavity, and lymphs beside esophagus when diagnosed 20 months ago. I've had
(at the same time) Docetaxel chemo, 37 radiation treatments, and trial study chemo pill,Iressa.
Tumor shrunk by one half, no growth for 6 months. Growth again so 5 months of
Gemcitabine/Carboplatin (horrible stuff). I have the "tight bra" feeling, stinging/needles on the
inside trying to come out, electric shock zaps all on the right side and chest area. From the
center chest around right breast and underarm area. My Drs only answer is nerve ending
damage from chemo and radiation (but don't they blame every ache and pain on that?) He gave
me a drug that really does help, Neurontin. Also the weight gain theory, I have lost 25 lbs
through all this. Like you guys, I am just thankful that right now my latest scans show no
growth, no new tumors, no mets. I guess I can live with wearing a tight bra!!! just to be living
and feeling stronger.
JudyB

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Without delving too deeply into the the bra analogy . I also experienced tightness that felt as if I had a belt around my chest. My surgery was twenty two months ago, and, for the past year, I have succeessfully engaged in gentle stretching exercises lying ontop one of those large Gym balls. Originally I was using two pound weights and have worked up to where I am using ten pounds. The pain has gone away but I notice that if I lay off the exercise for a week, the tightness returns.

Phil

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Carol,
It is so funny that you explain it that way. It is exactly what I feel and I no longer wear a bra. I try to wear double shirts. I still feel the tightness. Weather it is from surgery or from treatment I think it is all nerve damage, and scar tissue. I had surgery in Sep 2006 and have all of your symtoms. The surgery is very dramatic on your body the same as treatment so I feel you are completley normal along with the rest of us. Take care and God bless you.
Michele

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Hi Carol, I had my lobectomy in May of 2005. I have all that you and the others are talking about. The thing that saves me from going insane thinking that the cancer is back is that my pain is not like the pain that I had from my tumor. The pain that I had from the tumor was a very very persistent kind of throbbing pain that would not cease. It was constant and gettting worse each day. And it was probably around a 7 or 8 on the scale where now my pain is more like a two or three each day. It is crummy to have but it is something I can do things with and live with okay. It sounds like your pain is just a classic result of the surgery - so many people describe it. I think it must be from nerve and muscle damage and it makes sense that you could get it from radiation too. My left arm is so much weaker than my right arm. I remember when I had the surgery that afterwards I often thought I was having a stroke because when I was swimming my left arm would have a funny feeling in it and would kind of feel like it would go limp. I don't have that any more but I bring it up to show that it's obvious that there was a lot of muscle and nerve damage.

When I had two c-sections I had a very strange tightness over and around the incision for at least a year or more for each surgery. I also had strange burning and warm sensations above the incisison for quite a while. I think it took about six years for that to completely leave but I can now say it is almost completely normal after seven years. It lessened each year. Although minimal compared to the surgery we've had for our lung, I bring up that surgery as an example of how the healing continued for a very long time and it kept getting better and better. So I'm hoping this chest stuff will keep improving and improving. If we weren't so concerned about recurrence it would be so much easier to live with!

Just keep telling yourself it is not a new cancer - only a scan will be able to find that - it is just damage that needs to heal. Sharon

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That's what I call it, so yes, I know what you're talking about. I had a lobectomy in Sept. 2006 with a really big scar that goes down my back and then loops around my side (the doc was avoiding the front area, because I was having breast surgery later).
At any rate, after complaining for months, I was put on neurontin, which helps somewhat; I also am having acupuncture, which helps somewhat; and i have had two therapeutic massages, which also seem to help. I DO feel an improvement, so I'm hopeful. I think i had just expected things to go away a bit faster. Oh well...spring is in the air!
Liz

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Dear Carol and all,

Yep, I can identify with you about the tightness and mental/emotional thing, too!
I had my left lung removed June 2006, but still have some SOB and tightness around my chest,especially when the weather changes. Sometimes it's worse than others. On good days I can even wear a bra!!

I've found that exercise (even mild exercise) helps. I've had a cold this whole week and not much exercise, so the tightness and SOB have been worse.Sometimes I get discouraged, but I'm thankful that my cancer is gone for now. My pulse-ox reassures me that my oxygen saturation is acceptable. I still get tinges of pain and tenderness in my rib cage, occasionally. I seem to have more anxiety than I want, also.

God bless you all and hang in there. It takes a long time to recover for some of us.
Erne

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Boy, do I know all about this. I've had two thiracotomies - left side 12/05, right side 8/06. I really started noticing it after the second thoracotomy. Some days it is worse than others and it's worse in the evenings after I've been up at work all day. I tell me husband that I feel like I have barbed wire wraped around me right under my breasts. The doctors all say it is from the nerves that were cut. NOTHING seems to help it. I've even been to the pain clinic about it. I've tried pain pills, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories and nothing helps. I like the steel bra analogy. Cheryl

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Carol......... I also had that tightness you speak of. Finally after a 1 1/2 years after Lobectomy doctor finally found Barrett esophagus and acid reflex I was on Nexium for over a year. Six weeks ago surgery on the stomach was done to repair esophagus and acid reflex surgery.

Talk to your doctor............I know that feeling of the BRA far to well.

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I had an 8 hour surgery on 2/15/07 to remove upper right lung and lymph nodes. The surgeon started out with VATS for about 5 hours and then swithched to the more radical approach. I have a scar plus VATS incisions from just under my shoulder blade down three quarters of my back and over toward stomach. I am on morphine tablets every 4 hours which controls the pain great. It has been two weeks and the pain is now getting less and bearable. It is at its worse when I try to move around a lot. I have found rotating my arm around helps to loosen things up. I think what I am feeling is more the rib pain than anything esle. With regard to the toghtness, yes it feels as if I am wearing a bra on the inside. I have been told that it is the swelling and healing. I am surprised that after almost two years that this could be possible. I was old by my surgeon up to 6-8 months you could still feel something.
Paul

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Hi, I had my uppper right lung removed jan. 25th 2010. several of my ribs were broken during surgery and the soft tissue around the ribs is still so sensitive that i cannot wear a bra. but it feel like i am wearing one 6 sizes too small. sometimes during the day i can ignore the feeling as it is very mild, but other times the squeezing is so severe i think my body is being cut in half. now that i see you have had this condition for a long time that is not good news. i take neurontin 3 times a day for the nerves in the chest. does some good as it is worse when i try to get off the med.
email me judyls41@aol.com

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I had surgery in jan. 2010/ cancer removed from right upper lobe along with 2 lobes. ribs broken at time of surgery. ribs have healed but soft tissue in that area is still very tender.
i also have terrible tightness all around chest where a bra would be. Fells like i need a 52 bra and i and stuffed unto a 32. take neurontin helps but not enough.Part of the day the tightness is mild enough that i can ignore it but other times i fell like i am being cut in half. hearing that you still have this problem after 5 years is not what i wanted to hear. is it getting better? judy judyls41@aol.com

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I used to think I would have been better off having surgery rather than the horrific chemo/rad I went through. Now, after joining Inspire, I feel better. My heart aches for all of you post surgery people as you seem to continue having pain of one sort or another. Being in remission I still have minor problems such as COPD etc but compared to all of you I cannot complain about pain. May God bless you all.

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I had a R. Upper lobectomy in 2002. I had other issues
w/my chest being a women. But you need to contact your doctor, could it be possible some scar tissue ? Have you had your heart checked? Do not rule it out
there are many nerve endings in the thoracic area? Trust me I know, I am also a nurse. Just thought I would give you some incite. By the way I have been healed for 8yrs Praise God.

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I looked at the date that I wrote the above post and it was in 2007. I am now almost five years post surgery. The tightness in my chest as far as that squeezing tight bra feeling is gone. There is still some tightness there but not painful and not uncomfortable. Every now and then I get muscle spasms and that is painful and uncomfortable for a few minutes. That surgery DOES change your lifeand your body and you have to adjust to the changes. I did deep breathing exercises and stretching exercises (very mild stretching at first) those things really helped me.
Carol

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