Unexpectedly extreme pain following implant

Hi. I'm new here... I just got my ICD implanted 4 days ago, and the post-surgical pain is extreme; much worse than I expected. I usually have a pretty high tolerance to pain, but this is really bad. My doctor says that's not normal, and the Tylenol I'm taking should be managing it just fine. (I got the impression they don't believe me about the pain, or they think I'm being a baby.) 

The pain is only bearable when I have ice on it, which I'm keeping on constantly. They finally said yesterday that I can take ibuprofen, and that's helping some, but I just can't believe it still hurts this bad after 4 days. The whole surgical area is painful, but most of all I feel sharp pain near my collarbone, like maybe it's digging into it. The incision appears fine, and doesn't seem to be the cause of most of the pain. 

Has anyone else out there had unexpectedly severe pain? If so, was something wrong? (And what?)

And how long did it take to feel better? 

Thanks so much for your help...


Sorry to hear this

by Lavender - 2023-09-02 22:09:31

I'm so sorry to read that you're having extreme pain. Hugs. No one goes into this thinking it will be so bad. I know that ICDs are bigger devices than my CRT-P. I would think it would be still uncomfortable but shouldn't be extreme. 

A caution on the ice. I did use it and it helped a lot but you can't leave it on constantly. That could increase pain. Your skin is thin there and 15-20 minutes with a cloth between the ice and your skin is enough. Then take a 15-20 minute break from it. 

I wouldn't take a lot of ibuprofen either, but I do know that when I worked in a dental office, we recommended alternating Tylenol with Ibuprofen for pain. They can even be taken at the same time. They work differently and the combo might bring more relief. 

I did have pain in my neck, back and left arm. It took seven months to feel completely better. 

May God soon soothe your pain and let you rest. ❤️‍🩹🌷


by AgentX86 - 2023-09-02 22:12:41

That does sound unusually severe, particularly since you say you have a fairly high pain tolerance. After four days it should be dissipating.  Doctors are very reluctant to give opioids (not for medical reasons, rather political) but you shouldn't going through an unreasonable amount of pain. I'm not sure what I'd do. Your doctors admits that the pain is excessive. Pain should be managed even if some government bureaucrat is looking over their shoulder. ...not that this helps you right now.

Some doctors are just obstinate.  Others, not so much.  I was sent home with a week's worth of Tylenol-3.  I didn't need them and hate the side-effects, so just threw the bottle in a drawer.


by Penguin - 2023-09-03 05:58:08

This sounds very painful and difficult to cope with. I'm sure that they don't think that you're being a baby and I certainly don't! 

Is the mix of ibuprofen and Tylenol helping? I've been given co-codamol before for severe pain elsewhere and that helped quite a lot.  Not sure how your doctors would feel about that? 

I'm sure that the additional size / weight of an ICD is much more difficult to become accustomed to than a pacemaker. Maybe continue with the pain relief and wait for the swelling to reduce which may be making the skin very taught around your upper chest, collarbone area and see if things improve with the digging in sensation. If not, a scan may determine the positioning best.

Pain wears us all down and it's harder to cope when in pain.  Sending best wishes to you and hope that you will feel better soon. 



Pain after pacemaker/ICD insertion.

by Selwyn - 2023-09-04 13:51:48


Sorry to hear you are in agony after your implant. The above link is a survey of 322 of our members ( and others) experience of their implant.  If the situation is worsening I would be seeking medical help, otherwise you can be reassured that the vast majority of these things settle. If you read the survey, you will find how others have coped in your situation.

I hope this is of help. A lot of information that is given to us is inaccurate.

Welcome to the club.

Best wishes,



Pain, pain go away

by Gotrhythm - 2023-09-04 15:30:22

Is it possible you are having a reaction to the bandage/dressing?

I was having steadily increasing pain and discomfort until on the forth day post surgery, I pulled the waterproof bandage off. The pain was gone in minutes.

I didn't, of course, take a shower after that or even wash around the area until the time the bandage should have been removed.

I have a theory that the stickum used on these waterproof bandages is just too good and for some people results in the skin being relentlessly pulled and pinched, not to mention causing allergic reactions.

Coping with the pain

by TeeTeeBee - 2023-09-05 21:19:44

My CRT-D was implanted three weeks ago. In my pre-procedure consults, I feel that my doc understated the pain and discomfort I might experience. My actual pain was significantly more that I expected. His recommendation that I take Tylenol for the pain was unhelpful, inadequate ,and there was never any discussion about prescribing anything stronger. There was no discussion about how to manage the discomfort caused by activities of life - like sleeping. So, here's how I coped, and maybe my coping mechanisms could help you. 

Medication: Fortunately I had a couple of Valium pills left over from a recent kidney stone episode. They knocked out the pain for a couple of days. By then the pain had receded and Tylenol could handle it, so I didn't have to demand a prescription from the doc. The take-away: demand proper meds to manage the pain.

Sleeping: I didn't sleep for the first three nights because of the discomfort. I came up with two solutions. First, an hour before bed I ate a medical marijuana gummy (they are legal in the state where I live) It took the edge off the pain and made me sleepy. Second, I used extra bed pillows as bolsters on both sides of the bed. When I sleep on my back, the pillows on the left support my left arm and relieve almost all discomfort. When I sleep on my right side, the pillows support my left arm so that it doesn't drape across my body. I'm still using the bolster system now - three weeks post-op. The take-away: find a way to support your left arm when you are in bed. Consider CBD or marijuana if they are legal in your state.

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