View Full Version : neck and shoulder pain

February 24th, 2008, 03:01 PM
I am 12 days post AV and root replacement. My neck and shoulders ache tremendously. I can literally feels the knots. I have used heating pads and my husband has rubbed it. Is this pain normal? Did everyone's neck and shoulders ache after surgery? I am going to call the doctor to ask what meds I can take to relieve the sore muscles. I like hearing from this community, it puts my mind at ease that my struggles are normal.

February 24th, 2008, 03:29 PM
I don't remember having a lot of neck and shoulder pain but it is hard to get comfortable in a hospital bed and I couldn't sleep in a regular bed at home for months. The hubby massage is good but at some point you might want to consider getting a therapeutic massage from a licensed pro. It's good that you plan to check with your doc. Sounds like just some residual muscle tightness from all you've been through, but that's just my uneducated guess. Hopefully it will resolve soon for you.

February 24th, 2008, 03:40 PM
When the surgery is done, you are placed in very abnormal positions for relatively long periods of time. Some folks seem to have repercussions from that later. It usually shows up in the back or chest, and occasionally the shoulders. Muscle pain is not unusual after OHS.

If it's neck-and-shoulders, I would consider if you've been in an unusual position during recovery, either for watching TV or being on the Web (such as head propped up). If it's reasonable in your circumstance, I would suggest ensuring that you get enough movement: head rolls, shoulder shrugs, etc. While you may not be a candidate yet for a lot of arm exercises, you can still swing those arms a bit as you walk, and impart some fairly normal motion to your upper body without stressing your mending sternum.

I believe recovering natural motion is the best overall recovery strategy for your upper torso. In its own way, it's at least as affected as your heart by this surgery.

Best wishes,

February 24th, 2008, 03:51 PM
Oh yeah....I remember well the achey shoulders and central back...hot packs and hot showers were my best friend for a few weeks...Because it is muscle pain you are feeling Tylenol etc. have little to no effect...Ask your Doc about some valium or another muscle relaxer if its keeping you awake...you need your rest to recover properly. If this is your only concern you are doing mighty well.

February 24th, 2008, 03:59 PM
Oh yes...as said you are put in some weird positions....you've been opened like a clam so expect some discomfort....especially if you are smaller.

I had a couple of episodes where i had to lie down there and then as the discomfort was just too much.

It settles down fairly quickly.

Its too early now but about 10-14 months post surgery i went to see a chiropractor and they sorted everything out.....BUT.....it was a very good chiropractor that took full body xrays and used a little gun to fire into the muscle/bone (not jumping on my back with their knee) so if you still hurt at that point find a good one not just any jo shmo with a certificate.


February 24th, 2008, 04:00 PM
I had incredible neck pain and soreness the first week or so after surgery. I really could only lie down when it hurt so much. It was on the side of the neck IV, so I wondered if it had anything to do with that. Nothing really relieved it and it slowly went away. I agree that gentle massage or whatever theraputic massage a doc might recommend can help. Good luck and I hope you find relief soon!

All the best,


February 24th, 2008, 04:09 PM
I'm one month post surgery and this continues to be my biggest problem. I've been using the following:
1) Tiger Balm (like icy hot but stinkier and hotter)
2) a TheraCane (for trigger point knots)
3) a Thumper
4) a Chiropractor (I got my doc to say ok)
5) Finally, I'm signed up for deep tissue massage once a week.

Even with all of this, it all comes back the next day :( The chiropractor didn't end up doing much for me (I was pretty limited to what I could do there anyway).
I went in for one massage and it was AMAZING. If you can find someone that does deep tissue and who can put you in "prone" or "sideline" position (so there is absolutely no pressure on your chest) then I say do it. I'd go every day if I could afford it.

My surgeon was of no help on this. All they told me was to take more Motrin :(.

Good Luck!

February 24th, 2008, 04:23 PM
Yes....I get aches and pains around the neck and shoulders. They twist your body around like Gumby during surgery. From what I hear it's similar to experiencing whiplash. The first 0 -6 months, it was quite often. Now it's only occasionally, usually in damp weather. I take arthritic formula Tylenol when it gets bad. Sometimes I wear one of those collars to provide support to my neck. It usually goes away after a few days.

February 24th, 2008, 04:31 PM
Hi Tina,

I was told that during surgery my body was contorted. Something about my arms being pushed out and twisted.I had a little shoulder pain but not much. May be due to fact that someone on VR in a thread told me to do a lot of stretching excerises a couple of weeks before surgery. I think what you are experiencing is normal. I would do as you plan and talk with the doc.Some painkillers may be what you need.:)

February 24th, 2008, 06:01 PM
Been there.
Yes do call the doc and see what he/she says. Mean while (as it was mentioned by my Doctor) take note on HOW you are walking.
- Are you walking with your shoulders up? as if your cold? Maybe even inwards a bit?
- Are tucking in your chin without realizing it?

My doctor pointed this two things to me and recommended to walk pushing/or stretching the shoulders downward and at the same time holding your head straight up and back. Holding it for about 5 steps then relax - don't forget to breath. This can even be done when just standing.

Tylenol Arthritis may help.

Good Luck and let us know what the doctor says.

February 24th, 2008, 06:07 PM
If it makes you feel any better, I'm 12 days post-op as well and I have quite a bit of neck pain. My shoulders are tight, but my neck hurts. I constantly massage it myself, but doesn't seem to help. Thanks for posting this so that I can learn what to do as well!

Good luck with your continued recovery.

February 24th, 2008, 06:08 PM
Yes I have lots of shoulder pain and even had it in the hospital. Massage does help. I am a month post op and still have it everyday. The massage helps but it comes back. I use a heating pad on it as well that helps some. By all means call your doctor. I was done minimally invasive and my cardio says he hears of more shoulder pain from minimally invasive.
Good Luck

February 24th, 2008, 06:13 PM
I, too, had a very sore back and neck after my surgery. It lasted for about 3 months - slowly getting better.

Hot showers were my frined - a couple of times a day! I also found the 8 hour heat patches for necks and shoulders to be a wonderful source of relief - well worth the money!

Hang in there - it does get better!

February 24th, 2008, 07:29 PM
I agree that you are put in weird positions, pulled, stretched etc.......I had a great deal of shoulder discomfort.....it took quite a while to clear up......I did not go to cardiac rehab and don't know if that would have helped....This in a common aliment that should pass with time.....Sorry you are one of the ones that have to deal with it....Hope it clears up soon.

February 24th, 2008, 08:01 PM
I have a touch of arthritis in my right shoulder, and strained all the muscles in my back, right down to my tailbone almost. Every time I got in or out of bed the first few weeks were agony. I also have the proverbial bad back (lower), and it was about the only thing that really got to me after surgery. I had a few weepy moments, but they went away as I got better. Knowing what it was and why, and knowing that it would go away, really helped mentally. Showers and so on really helped physically.

Lisa in Katy
February 24th, 2008, 08:03 PM
I remember the pain as well. If you were split down the middle, they open your ribs like double doors and bend you backward. It is a very abnormal position. Aleve should help.

February 24th, 2008, 09:40 PM
I got INTENSE PAIN in the long back muscles that was best relieved by MASSAGE. My S.O. ran a Vibrating Disk Massager up and down those muscles (with verbal guidance). RELIEF came in a minute or two, Way Better than any Pain medications with NO after effects.

After 6 weeks post-op, most Doc's are happy to prescribe Cardiac Rehabilitation. I highly recommend it if your insurance will cover it. I especially liked the 'arm-cycle' machines (like a tricycle wheel for the arms with variable resistance, both directions). Those machines REALLY loosened up my tight arm and shoulder muscles.

STRETCHES are also recommended. Many surgeons give hand-outs showing approved stretches and arm exercises. They can also be obtained from the Cardiac Rehab Nurses (even if your insurance won't cover the rehab).

'AL Capshaw'

February 24th, 2008, 11:44 PM
Looks like everyone has had this thrill. I actually had pain that would go down both my arms to my hands and just throb for about five minutes at a time......on top of the shoulder and neck discomfort. Cardio says it is from moving around the nerve groups during surgery and slicing through some of them and in time, everything will be back to normal. The arm bike at rehab has helped alot as well. Best of luck on your recovery. - Jim

P.S. During the first couple months post-op, I got a couple of massages of just my neck, back and shoulders while sitting in a chair. It was only a week ago that I had my first regular one laying on my stomach....so 14 weeks post op. She was very careful and knew what I had been through and with good communication she would cut back on the pressure when needed. :cool:

February 25th, 2008, 12:41 AM
Yes i do recall 16 years ago if anything i kept notes of it
it took approx. 3 months to quit aching and the Drs did
remind me of the trauma ones body goes through and i was given
painkillers for the pain for 4 weeks prior to the 3 months ,but it
does get better with time and goes away,reminds me now even if i turn
the wrong way more so those darn wires in my ribs can now still bother
me,but see your Dr for something for pain and remember the trauma
our bodies adjust from is alot to blame. Hoping you get better and i know
you well with time,such a big factor in all of this.


February 25th, 2008, 06:20 AM
".....(not jumping on my back with their knee)"

No Chiropractor is going to jump on anyone's back with their knee!

The upper back, neck, and shoulder pain is normal. That was my worst complaint following my surgery.

You need to gently stretch it out, use heat, maybe gentle massage, if your Chiropractor uses a mechanical adjusting instrument that can help considerably.

Valium isn't going to help--you need gentle physical activity, not a sedative.

The sooner you can get active, within your reasonable boundries, the sooner you'll get over this.

February 25th, 2008, 03:25 PM
".....(not jumping on my back with their knee)"

No Chiropractor is going to jump on anyone's back with their knee!

The upper back, neck, and shoulder pain is normal. That was my worst complaint following my surgery.

You need to gently stretch it out, use heat, maybe gentle massage, if your Chiropractor uses a mechanical adjusting instrument that can help considerably.

Valium isn't going to help--you need gentle physical activity, not a sedative.

The sooner you can get active, within your reasonable boundries, the sooner you'll get over this.

My Chiropractor used stretching, gentle massage and electrical muscle stimulation all of which was very helpful....I can't agree more with getting active....I started to hold my arms out to the side and rotate them forward then backwards as I walked and that helped a great deal as well.

February 25th, 2008, 03:32 PM
Oops...didnt mean to suggest you dope yourself up on valium for the duration...just that it may help during those sleepless nights if the pain gets too much.

As great as it sounds, dont go rushing out to find a good Masseur or Osteopath etc. yet....I was told to wait a minimum of 6 weeks until the sternum had pretty much healed/fused.

February 25th, 2008, 03:47 PM
I hear folks talking about stretches. Is there any website or books that specifically targets folks like us to show us acceptable exercises. The pain is on the IV side, Wouldn't it be nice to have a book of exercises for post op heart patients!

February 26th, 2008, 06:55 AM
One suggestion...I've started (last two nights) sleeping on a heating pad...place it right under my neck and shoulders...keep it on low. I've noticed that my neck/shoulders aren't nearly as stiff throughout the day, so you might try that. It's helping me.

Just a suggestion...

February 29th, 2008, 07:25 PM
Try to sleep without a pillow, just on your mattress. At the beginning it will be painful, but for me this helped. Later you could try to lay on your back on the floor, maybe with someone’s help.