Discomfort in pacemaker area.....

Hi everyone.....

I got my pacemaker about 9 months ago and have felt pain and a pinching sensation in my left collar bone and around the pacemaker, since the time it was implanted. It only gets worse when I do any physical activity, like yard work. I asked my EP aboiut it and he said that it was caused by irritation from the pacemaker on my collar bone....he kiddingly suggested that I gain weight, but then, how do you gain weight in your collar bone area? Since I am 57, I don't need to gain more weight since the weight heads south, rather north. I also have discomfort in that area when I try to sleep on my left side, it's like it digs into my chest. My pacemaker appears to be directly under the skin, since you can see the area where the leads are attached...which most likely causes the irritation. I just wondered if I was the only one with this problem or if it's a relatively common thing. Also, if anyone else has this problem and has a solution, I'd love to hear from you. I hate to think of having this "pain" in my chest for the rest of my life, but then, the alternative isn't that cheery....


15 Comments

Painful PM

by SMITTY - 2007-05-06 11:05:08

This is pitiful, downright pitiful for a no good doctor to be as unconcerned about something as serious as your problem. You should not have to go through the rest of your life with a pacemaker that hurts you. If you doubt that statement, contact the manufacturer and ask them if they intended for their pacemakers to cause the recipients pain after they were implanted. And I fail to see how gaining weight is going to solve your problem. Did he say how much weight you needed to gain? If not ask him for a number.

Of course I can’t tell you what must be done to stop your pain, but I can assure you that a good doctor can solve your problem.

Good luck,

Smitty

Misery loves company??

by ADalsmom - 2007-05-06 11:05:41

Hi Cathryn....I appreciate all the information that you gave me. Somehow it feels good knowing that someone else is having the same discomfort (not that it's a good thing!!). The thought of having my PM repositioned isn'tt pleasantt, I suppose I just kept hoping that things would improve. I'm a 57 year old female and wonder if I would have a problem with putting it in breast muscle because I have breast implants. If it's not one thing, it's another! I did always wonder why they would place it right under the skin, unless it was easier or quicker....since my heart stopped during my ablation procedure. I suppose if I continue to have this discomfort, I'll speak to my EP to see if he has other suggestions or options. I enjoy sleeping on my side, both right and left, and this pretty much puts a damper on the left side.

I'm very happy to hear that the PM has helped you with your heart issues. I have (had) atrial fibrillation and had open heart surgery about a year ago (a Cox Maze procedure) where they stop your heart and either freeze or burn areas in your heart where the irregular heart beats originate. Since my heart would beat fast, I didn't feel that a pacemaker would do any good since they usually help to keep a slow heart beating normal. I guess they know more than I do, about what needs to be done to maintain a regular heart rate. I still have my a-fib off and on, after all I've been through, but at least it's becoming more stable. I'll let you know if I hear of any "miracle solution" to our problem. Thanks again for your insight and information......

discomfort at PM site

by CathrynB - 2007-05-06 11:05:53

Hi ADalsmom: Well, you're not gonna like my reply, but I'll write anyway. I got my PM 3 1/2 months ago. I also have very thin skin at the PM site, the lump shows significantly, my EP jokingly told me to gain weight at my collarbone (as if!), I can't sleep on my left side, it hurts with certain activities/motions, etc. My EP is recommending I have my PM re-located, either under the muscle, or into my breast (are you male or female?) I have an appointment with my Internal Medicine doc Tuesday to discuss it, with a General Surgeon who specializes in surgeries involving breast tissue the following week, and if all recommend re-location, I'll seek a second opinion from another General Surgeon as I'm reluctant to go through another surgery. But I can feel the wires too, it's uncomfortable, and I'm into solving the problem at this point, not fussing about what has happened in the past. My husband is very unhappy with my EP for putting it in a location that's "too skinny" but I just want the problem fixed as I don't want to live with discomfort. As far as cardiac issues go, I'm doing great now, so I'm lucky in that respect. I'm discouraged to hear 9 months later you still have discomfort, so I guess I shouldn't wait and hope things will get better, but again, solving the problem is my focus, so if that requires another surgery, so be it. I'm 50 years old and very active, and this is impacting my life in unwanted ways, so I can understand your desire to have it solved somehow. Please keep me posted on any solutions you come up with, posting here or private message. Take care and I wish you all the best getting your situation resolved. Cathryn

padding

by jessie - 2007-05-07 03:05:34

hi i guess that all i can say is mt pacemaker is noticeable and sticks out a bit but it certainly is not uncomfortable now. it probably does have to do with being very thin but really to tell you to gain weight to solve the problem. i hope you can get another opinion as it does not seem right to live your life with this discomfort. jessie

Discomfort

by Vai - 2007-05-07 05:05:15

Sorry to hear you are having so much discomfort with the PM. Looks like the PM has helped with the cardiac problems and its just the "physical fitting" thats causing the discomfort. I just thought I share this info with you - it may have absolutely no medical value. When I had my implant done in August 2006, the nurse jokingly told me that I would no problems with the implant (immediate under the skin below the collarbone area) since I have plenty of fat to hide it and plenty of muscle to hold the device in place. (I have broad shoulders, big chest and well rounded pectoral muscles :-) I am back on my weight exercises in the gym and the PM does not impair any lifting, pushing or pulling exercises. I just thought if you could get some physio expertise to build some chest muscle, it may help you. Just to share some thought. Best of luck.

pain at pm site

by CathrynB - 2007-05-07 07:05:53

ADalsmom and Kathybnc: Well, I guess it's good to know we're not alone with this problem even if it's no fun. Smitty, Jessie and Vai, thank you for your good suggestions and support! Kathy, I wonder why your husband's EP isn't talking about putting his underneath the muscle given how extremely thin it sounds like he is? I'm not too thin all over -- just at my PM site, in my pinkie fingers, and my ears :- ) only kind of kidding there! ADalsmom: I wouldn't let the presence of breast implants stop me from exploring all possible solutions. It might not work, but you never know until you ask. And your EP may not be the person who would know. As Smitty says, it's not right for you to live with discomfort, so make your EP find a solution, or find another EP, I say. Our discomfort situations sound almost identical. Unfortunately your medical/cardiac situation sounds quite a bit more complicated than mine, and I hope things go well for you there as well. Vai, I used to lift weights, and had pretty well-developed pecs for a female, but I haven't lifted since PM surgery. I'll let you folks know what my docs say in the next couple weeks. Take care all, Cathryn

i too,implants

by queen_beez - 2007-05-07 11:05:16

I am having the same problems that you described. When it was implanted I told my ep that I thought my skin was going to be too tight ,as I knew my skin from my pregnancies.I also have implants and knew how that area would "react " to something foreign going into it. I am very upset because no one listened. I. too, have pain, not discomfort, pain, at the site. I go into the cardi on wednesday at I am going to really consider changing the location of the pm. It is impossible to gain weight at ones collarbone, but upon implantation I jokingly,so someone would listen, said I planned on losing weight so be sure the pm was in a location a little lower into my breast tissue because my skin was too tight. It didn't help. I really think that alot of the docs just don't have common sense and the empathy that is required with this issue. Good luck ,but as far as the implants ,no worries there.
take care,
Susan

Thanks for your support Smitty....

by ADalsmom - 2007-05-07 12:05:12

I agree with you, it does seem sad that my EP doesn't show more compassion regarding my PM. I'm not due for my routine 3 mo visit for another month or so. When I see him next time, I'm going to ask for alternatives. If you read Cathryn's response to me, she is also going through the same issues. I think gaining weight is not the solution, since I don't see how the "fat" will know to go up to my collarbone! I feel like I have a hockey puck sitting on my collar! I'll have to see what my EP's response will be. Thanks for the support and encouragement!!!

discomfort at site

by kathybnc - 2007-05-07 12:05:56

Hi everyone - As I've posted before, my husband is still in a lot of discomfort at the ICD site (6 mos) - EP said that he was "too scrawny". Cardio agrees that he doesn't have enough skin to cover it. He's generally pretty uncomfortable and now with too many bouts of CHF they may do the bi-ventricular which we're told is 30% bigger. I don't know how it will fit and how comfortable that will be, but at this point there isn't too much choice (if the EP will even do it). Have to wait until 5/16 as she is out of the country - hope we can make it that long - very frustrating! Good luck to all and if you come up with any answers on comfort, please let us know. Kathy

Thanks for the great support!

by ADalsmom - 2007-05-08 01:05:21

Hi Cathryn, Smitty, Kathy, Jessie, Val and Susan (hope I didn't leave any of you out)......I appreciate you all taking the time to respond to my delimma with my pacemaker discomfort. It has given me something to think about and comforting to know that I'm not alone with this problem. I'm going to ask my EP, on my next visit, if he has any suggestions and will post his reply. I just figure that most EPs don't have pacemakers so they can't relate to what we all have to go through. Wishing you all great health and you are all an example of the terrific people who follow this website and care enough to pass on your suggestions! Claudia

Pop Out Of Skin!

by Seniorcitizen - 2008-03-22 09:03:29

I feel as though my pacemaker could pop or break thru the skin at any time. When I sleep on my left side at night I take a small baby pillow and put it on top of my pacemaker and this helps not to have discomfort at the site but no matter when I get up in the morning it always has discomfort, throbing. My doctor also said he could redo surgery and put it behind muscle BUT the surgery would be longer than the last one in December (which was 5 hours) and that there would be more bleeding and problems???????going to try to stay with this one and I do not think I would want mine in my breast area......

Pacemaker Discomfort

by Seniorcitizen - 2009-06-28 03:06:18

I would not have my pacemaker moved because I would never go thru that again.......It was my second pacemaker after 6 years and I just live with it. It is keeping me alive and that is a plus....Years ago they did not have everything that they have now....Good luck to you all. Joan

Pain at sight

by Jlehrkamp - 2018-07-03 06:27:59

its now been 4 months... skin is getting thinner and you can see the entire device. When i take a shower it’s extremely painful. I can’t lift my left arm above my head. It’s summer and I can’t swim. Does anyone one have a suggestion or words of advice. My last appointment he said everything looked good because it wasn’t seeping or look infected. That’s i was just small. I’m sure there are a lot of small people, there has to be solution. 

Pacemaker site pai

by Kaveri - 2018-10-08 11:32:34

I feel the same and share the concern with everyone facing the issue. It has been almost two months I got my pacemaker and even a little activity with my left arm cause pain and discomfort below the incision. It is not a constant pain but something like a cramp which I feel on top of the battery, and it feels like a little lump underneath ( like a screw). Hope time heals. I have been advised steri strips.

Pacemaker Pain

by ADalsmom - 2018-10-08 16:03:35

Got notice that there was some recent activity from a comment I made in 2007, when at that time, my pacemmaker was placed directly under my skin over my collarbone, which caused pain.  I could almost read the printing on the PM!  Since that time, I've had my pacemaker replaced in 2014 and at that time, my EP placed the new PM into the muscle in that area and it's been very comfortable since that time.  I suppose it's something that needs to be included in the discussion when talking about putting in a pacemaker.

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I've seen many posts about people being concerned about exercise after having a device so thought I would let you know that yesterday I raced my first marathon since having my pacemaker fitted in fall 2004.