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Fazilat’s Collarbone Pain Travels Up Scale

Posted by Adam Pick on July 17th, 2008

For most patients, open heart surgery recovery is filled with pain.

Pain levels vary, so the medical community developed pain scales to help patients better communicate with their medical team in the hospital and during cardiac rehabilitation. If you are a future patient, be prepared to see something similar to the pain scale example below.

Pain Scale After Heart Surgery

The location of the pain can also vary. During the past week, I received emails from patients complaining about pain in their shoulders, arms, legs, and, of course, the chest.

Last night, I received an email from Fazilat about her collarbone. She writes, “Hello Adam. My name is Fazilat and I live in the United Kingdom. My question to you is… I am nine weeks post-op. Over the last two weeks, I have had severe pain around the collar bone area. The pain comes and goes but stops me in my tracks. I am not sure if this typical or common for patients during heart surgery recovery? Or, do I have a problem. I started a cardiac rehab program but I had to stop due to the pain. Any thoughts?”


Hi Fazilat,

Thanks for writing and sharing your story.

So you know, I had pain around my collarbone area as well. In fact, the pain remained with me for the first nine months after surgery. However, most of the discomfort slowly deteriorated during/after my cardiac rehab program.

I know that cardiac rehab can be painful and challenging. Trust me. There were many times I did not want to go back to Torrance Memorial Hospital for my cardiac rehabilitation sessions. But, as I have previously written, my surgeon (Dr. Vaughn Starnes) had some very good insight specific to managing pain after heart valve replacement surgery. Doctor Starnes suggested that I “play through the pain”.

Guess what? Doctor Starnes was incredibly accurate with that statement. Remember, your body has experienced significant musculoskeletal trauma. There will be discomfort during the recovery. However, it is critical that you leverage the cardiac rehab program to help manage the pain and re-animate your chest and minimize collarbone discomfort.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Susan Bartlett says on July 22nd, 2008 at 11:15 pm

I am one year post op from having the mitrial valve repaired. I have had severe pain the is continous along the right side of my chest right up the outside of the breast and climbing right up into the collar bone area. The collar bone on that side seems to pop in and out of place and is very painful when this happens. I am receiving pain blocks along the inside breast and collar bone to try and relieve the pain and it works but only for about a month. Now I noticing the pain has jumped to the left inside breast area and working up towards the collar bone. There are times I cannot even find the collar bone on the left side due to the right side being so “forward”. Is there any relief in sight for this problem? Or am I doomed to live with it forever?


Sandra says on September 27th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I am having similar pain in my collarbone area. I had mitral valve repair and atrial/septal aneurysm repair on July 16. This is the third bout of the pain and the worst right now. Every time I breathe in it hurts – It is also accompanied by pre-ventricular contractions. I went to ER yesterday and they said pvc’s are normal and not to worry about it but they are still there and the pain in my collar bone is getting worse. When I bend down I can feel it pulsating. Anyone else have this? I am 10 weeks post op have attended 4 cardiac rehab sessions and this started with the last session 4 days ago.


Carl says on January 8th, 2010 at 11:11 am

The medicines that are used for bone pain are narcotics findrxonline as opioids such as Vicodin, Lortab, OxyContin, hydrocodone and the doctors that are usually used to combat pain they cause diseases such as homeopathy, fibromyalgia and even cancer In general, these medicines are used mostly is the United States and Europe are controlled because their use can lead to addiction.


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