Post-Operative Pain (Thoracotomy)

Post-thoracotomy pain is a medical condition characterized by pain that persists after a chest incision, also known as a thoracotomy, has healed. Typically, chest incisions are performed during heart or lung surgeries, and it is expected to experience pain during the healing process. However, post-thoracotomy pain is a type of pain that lasts for at least two months after the incision has healed, and it affects nearly half of the patients who undergo chest incisions.

The underlying cause of post-thoracotomy pain is often due to damage to the muscles and intercostal nerves located between the ribs. This is unavoidable in most cases during surgery.


Common symptoms of post-thoracotomy pain include the following listed below:

  • Pain at the incision site
  • Increased sensitivity to touch or temperature at the incision site
  • Itching at the incision site
  • Pain alongside the ribcage
  • Pain that moves around the chest
  • Pain that radiates from the front part of the chest towards the back
  • This pain may feel like an aching, cramping, shooting, pinching, spasm or stabbing sensation.

Treatment Options

Doctors suggest the following treatment options for post-thoracotomy pain:

Medication Management – In most cases, medications such as antidepressants, over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-epileptics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or topical ointments are recommended by doctor.

Injection Therapies – Injections are known to be helpful in management of different types of pain. These functions by blocking nerve signals. We offer nerve blocks such as sympathetic nerve blocks, scar injections, epidural injections, and peripheral nerve blocks amongst others.

Stimulation Therapies – These procedures can stimulate nerves and control their signals to decrease pain. We offer helpful therapies including spinal cord stimulation, dorsal root ganglion stimulation, and peripheral nerve stimulation.

Schedule an Appointment?

Are you experiencing signs or symptoms of post-thoracotomy pain? Do not wait anymore. Schedule an appointment today by calling us now on 305-296-2212

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