Complex Regional Pain Syndrome post-pacemaker insertion

April 25 I had my aortic valve replaced (2nd time, first time was 2004). Because of my age, I was advised not to have TAVR, as the replacement valve would not be a good candidate for replacement in another 12 to 15 years. I therefore underwent the whole sternum-cracking surgery.  Six days later, I had to have a pacemaker inserted due to heart block caused by the surgery.  I have been suffering with intense sensations of stinging, biting, burning across my chest from armpit to armpit.  Taking pain meds (OTC) brings a bit of temporary relief.  Topical analgesic helps for about an hour.  Every professional I have mentioned this to says they've "never heard of this before." Not my cardiologist, not the cardiac rehab folks, not the device clinic. So I googled. Found several articles on the NIH.gov website:  Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, basically nerve damage from the pacemaker surgery. Nice to know it has a name!! I have found some comments on this group that are encouraging.  Seems it may subside in a few weeks/months.  I cannot begin to describe what a comfort it has been to find that I am not alone.


2 Comments

Armpit pain

by Buzzys246 - 2019-08-06 00:48:26

I have the same pain and discomfort, the major pain hs subsided but burning and stinging still continue. Doc said it could go away but no explanation, my pm was installed 2 years ago

Post op pain

by Memaw27 - 2019-08-17 02:14:09

I joined this site in hopes of learning more, getting support on pain issues. I got my PPM 3 weeks ago. I feel as if the pocket is a little high and the PM is hitting/ resting on my collar bone causing pain. It pokes out a lot. My main problem, aside from still having intense incisional pain is severe pain across my left chest wall - about half-way that spreads to the sternal area and numbness/tingling up my neck to my chin. It is an intense burning, pins/needles feeling - like touching a severe sunburn, with a particular area mid chest that fells like being stabbed. My doctor's office just tells me they don't know what the problem could possibly be, have never heard of such a thing, etc etc. I am a nurse so I do know about anatomy. I know that the median subpraclavicular nerve innervates the area of my greatest pain. It's worse if I lie down, so have only been able to sleep sitting up. Has anyone else experienced such pain. I am hoping that maybe it is a result of some nerve bruising or stretching duing the surgery that will heal over time. I believe I read someone say on here it takes about 8 weeks for the PM to settle into the pocket, so I am hoping that if it is pressing on a nerve it will calm down.  What remedies are others using for pain relief? I want to avoid opiods if at all possible. 

I never in my wildest immagination thought PM surgery would be this painful. I am disheartened to see someone say they have had pain for 2 years! I have to return to work in 2 weeks!!

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Member Quotes

The pacer systems are really very reliable. The main problem is the incompetent programming of them. If yours is working well for you, get on with life and enjoy it. You probably are more at risk of problems with a valve job than the pacer.