Pain after lung surgery
I had surgery last year for lung cancer and still have pain. Is this normal?
Some people do unfortunately have pain for some months or even years after surgery for lung cancer or surgery for pleural mesothelioma. The pain is due to damage to nerves in the area. This type of pain often occurs after a type of operation called thoracotomy, which means opening the chest (thorax) through the rib cage. It can happen after any type of lung surgery though. The pain often runs along the operation scar. For most people it will gradually reduce over a couple of years but for some people it may continue.
This type of pain after surgery can be difficult to get under control. The commonly used painkillers may have little or no effect. It is important to let your specialist nurse or surgeon know that you are in pain. They can refer you to a pain clinic where you can get specialist help. Some types of anti epileptic drugs and anti depressants work very well at controlling this type of pain and your doctor can prescribe these.
Other ways of controlling pain can also work well, such as nerve blocks. You can read about this on our page about ways of controlling pain. There is a lot of support available to help people who have chronic pain and you can read about that on our page about support when you are in pain.
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