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Types of Pain and Problems

Thoracotomy Pain/Intercostal Neuralgia

Thoracotomy is a surgical incision into the pleural space of the chest. It is considered major surgery. Unfortunately, most post thoracotomy patients experience pain. This pain is difficult to deal with and often causes additional postoperative complications, such as pneumonia. It is very difficult to treat and is often attributed to rib pain from the rib spreader, nerve injuries from surgical trauma, and compression neuropathy of the intercostal nerves due to direct compression of the intercostal nerves by retractors. The most common pain symptoms include tenderness along the healed incision, bulging of the abdomen, and often complex regional pain syndrome of an upper extremity, often causing a frozen shoulder. A simple treatment is the use of a combination of analgesics as well as NSAIDs. If pain continues, your health care provider may prescribe antidepressants or gabapentin. In the event the aforementioned treatments are unsuccessful in treating the pain, an inter-costal nerve block may provide relief.