View Full Version : Rib to back pain making it hard to breathe?

11-29-2009, 10:57 PM
I had a posterior spinal fusion on June 4th 2009. I am at 6 months post op. I had rib pain for about 4 months after surgery and it quit. But, about a month ago the rib pain has came back on my left side and shooting through to my back on the that same side, making it hard to breathe. Has anyone had that going since they had their surgery. I have my next appointment on Dec 7th.

Thank you,

11-30-2009, 12:26 AM
I wonder if it's your intercostal muscles? I had intermittent intercostal muscle pain for about a month post-op. I haven't had it now for about 6 - 7 months. I'd forgotten all about it.

11-30-2009, 01:52 AM
I had a little chest pain after surgery for a couple months and it went away. Now just in the pass three weeks this has started. It is a stabbing, hurting, pain in my left rib cage. It hurts all the time but worse time is laying down. It's keeping me awake and sometimes the pain gets so sharp I have trouble breathing.

11-30-2009, 03:51 AM
Hi Lindsey. Your appt. is still a week away. Can you see your primary care physician (GP in Australia) and find out what he/she thinks? It sounds very unpleasant. Hope you are feeling much better soon.

Karen Ocker
11-30-2009, 09:30 AM
This type of pain is common many months post-op as the nerves/muscles "wake-up".

New movements and increased activity cause all sorts of new pains, jabs, and other feelings which can drive you nuts if you let it. It is all part of the healing process.

11-30-2009, 11:20 AM
I agree, those intercostal muscle pains can be killer. I still have problems with them from time to time, only on my left side. For me, tylenol does help this pain.

11-30-2009, 11:46 AM
I experienced similar pain to what you all are describing when I was six weeks post-op. (I am now eight months post surgery). The pain was absolutely unbearable! It felt like shooting, stabbing pains in my side, and whenever I lied down, breathing became very difficult (both due to intense pain and shortness of breath). In fact, at the worst of it, I nearly collapsed after walking up half a flight of stairs! At first, my pain was misdiagnosed as severe muscle spasms, nerve regeneration, etc., but finally, after the pain continued to get worse and worse, a CT scan revealed that I had a very large pleural effusion. Basically, a pleural effusion is an abnormal, unsafe amount of fluid between the layers of the membrane that lines the lungs and chest cavity. The extreme amount of fluid collection in my left lung cavity was causing intense pressure in my chest (resulting in shortness of breath) and severe inflammation (my misdiagnosed "muscle spasms" near my ribs). I ended up being readmitted for a week and had a procedure called a thoracentesis, in which doctors used an ultrasound to guide a hollow needle into a specific area between my ribs, and then suctioned out 1,300 mL (two lbs worth!!!) of fluid. By the next morning, though..... all the fluid was back.... so a chest tube was then inserted. The tube stayed in for four days, and b/c the fluid was able to drain gradually, they were able to get ALL the fluid out that time around. :)
Long story short, I'm not sure if this is what you have going on, but I think it'd be worth it to get it checked out! Because I waited so long, I STILL experience painful scar tissue build-up...