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“Did Your Sternum and Shoulder Click after Heart Surgery?” Asks Dale

Posted by Adam Pick on February 3rd, 2010

I just received a great email from Dale about sternum and shoulder clicking after open heart surgery.

Dale writes, “Hi Adam – I had my surgery on November 2, 2009. The surgeon replaced my bicuspid aortic valve (with a bovine tissue valve), the root aorta, and grafted a large piece of my ascending aorta. I have a question… I have some very occasional clicking in my sternum. However, I also have clicking in my right shoulder. It has become more intense, frequent and uncomfortable. Is this normal? Thank you for both the book and this blog! Dale Pfeiffer”

Diagram Of Chest Incision For Heart Surgery

This email from Dale brought back some distinct memories from my early recovery.

Like Dale, I did experience sternum clicks from time-to-time as my sternum healed. In fact, one night I had Robyn (my wife) listen to my chest – as it clicked – to confirm that I wasn’t going crazy. To ensure the “clicking” was not problematic, I discussed this noise with Dr. Starnes, my surgeon, who calmed my fears with two words, “That’s normal.”

Unlike Dale… I did not experience any clicking or pain in my shoulder. However, after I started cardiac rehab, I did meet several patients, including Ted, that often complained of shoulder pain.

What is very interesting about the timing of Dale’s email, is that two other emails in my inbox – from Brian J. and Craig R. – are also asking about the exact same issue… shoulder pain.

That said, I did some quick research. It appears that shoulder pain, like chest pain, is normal for patients. According to the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, “Some heart valve replacement surgery patients experience pain in their chest and shoulder areas and become alarmed thinking it may be angina. This pain is usually due to muscle and bone aches.”

Still, I am curious to know how many, if any, of our patient readers can relate to Dale’s, Brian’s and Craig’s shoulder pain. So, my questions to you are, “Did you experience sternum clicking? Did you experience shoulder clicking? What about shoulder pain?”

To leave a comment, please click here. In advance, thanks for your help in our discussion of this topic!

Scroll down to see over 190 comments about this topic.

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.


Marilyn W. says on February 3rd, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Hello Adam,

Read your book and found it very informative. Had surgery on Dec. 14th for
a bicuspid aortic valve. It was replaced with a bovine valve. I’m now in the 3rd
week of cardiac rehab and have experienced shoulder pain now. Before I started rehab I had occasional pain in one shoulder.


Marilyn W. says on February 3rd, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Marilyn W. Says:
February 3rd, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Hello Adam,

Read your book and found it very informative. Had surgery on Dec. 14th for
a bicuspid aortic valve. It was replaced with a bovine valve. I’m now in the 3rd
week of cardiac rehab and have experienced shoulder pain now. Before I started rehab I had occasional pain in one shoulder.


Tony Korwin says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Hi all…

I had shoulder spasms that affected both sides, but not in any predictable manner. The spasms started while I was still in the hospital and bringing to the attention to the nurses, they explained that the reason was that during the surgery, the position of the arms are down and back at an almost unnatural angle causing great strain on the muscles during the 4 hour surgery. So as they heal, they tend to revolt and go into spasms. I found that sleeping on an ice pack under each shoulder blade would alleviate the occurances and give me a good nights sleep.


Elizabeth Bird says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I had the same (almost identical) surgery as Dale on November 23, 2009. I did not have the sternum clicking, but about the sixth week of recovery I did experience an excruciating pain in my left shoulder and back for about three days.

The odd thing was that during those days my sternum had absolutely no pain at all, but the pain in my shoulder was so intense I could not sleep lying down and sometimes even breathing hurt. I was about to make an appointment to see the doctor when something shifted and the pain in the shoulder and back left and I was left with a return of slight pain (more like discomfort) in the sternum again. By the beginning of the seventh week the pain in the sternum was considerably less and now after the nineth week is barely noticeable. Though I do still need to take some OTC pain relievers to keep the feeling of being runover at bay.


Goodsport says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:23 pm

My sternum was cracked open but it never clicked after the operation. I don’t know what Mass General used but there were no staples or stitches to take out. My upper back hurt for quite some time. I attribute it to the possibility that my shoulders were arched back during the operation. At 64, I’m still able to run faster than a few 20 somethings. No pain, no gain.


Amy says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I developed right shoulder pain about 6 months after my surgery. I went to my chiropractor and she said it is not unusual to get shoulder and neck pain after surgery and it can be related to the anesthesia. More recently, I have had a variety of other minor symptoms (intense deep pain down my right arm, flickering vision if I get hungry, and a tension just below my sternum that can affect my breathing). Again I went to the chiropractor and she said my cranium is out of alignment which can also be related to a major surgery. One appointment with her has already given some relief to these symptoms. I need several more appointments to get things back in shape but it gave me huge reassurance to learn that all these seemingly unrelated symptoms are likely related to the side effects of anesthesia.


Joel Bryan says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I had surgery for an aortic valve repair on October 28, 2009. I experienced clicking or “popping” in my sternum for several weeks after surgery. Dr. Hockmuth recommended a Heart Hugger Sternum Restraint Harness which I wore for several weeks. I no longer experience the sternum popping, but I continue to have some residual pain in my left shoulder. Dr. H explained that it was due to the strain on the shoulder muscles during surgery, and that it could sometimes take several months to recover completely. It’s really only a slight annoyance now and I control it with Tylenol.


Randy Kelly says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I have clicking which I believe is my clavicle shifting because they just kind of hang there. I also have a regular ache that occurs in my right front deltoid when I work out. I believe that is due to the beating my right pectoral muscle took in surgery when they spread the muscle to hook you into the heart lung bypass machine.

I am at about three months post surgery. I had my ascending aorta replaced as well as my aortic valve.


Ricky P.Laufer says on February 3rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I still have an ache on and off in front,if I move a certain way……I think it is how they sew you up…About the ticking …When I got my MITRO VALVE,(7 years + counting)…..MY BROTHER(also a DR.) asked the surgeon if he was putting a NOISY valve in……The DR. said,your sister can handle it……well,sometimes it helps put me to sleep…zzzz


Paul Kaminski says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:10 pm


This question brought back painful memories –

I certainly did have the clicking – and also the shoulder pain – but they are two distinctly different things -

the shoulder pain was worse than the incision – had it immediately following surgery – my shoulder dislocated – and had to be put back in place –
Not a favorite memory.

Dale – Have someone check your shoulder. The pain disappeared as soon as things were back in there proper place.



Mike B. says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I had the exact same surgeries as Dale. Except I have a mechanical valve. My surgery was on Jan 26 2009. I still experience sternum pain and “clicking”. I also pain under my left shoulder blade. I have no health insurance so I am unable to see a Dr. to receive any treatment for my pain. My cardiologist told me not to take Tylenol on a daily basis so I live with chronic pain. I also have pains throughout my body that can only be described as a muscle cramping sensation. It is very painful and comes out of nowhere. The pain usually last for 2 minutes and then is gone. It’s the same type of pain I had when I collapsed from my dissecting aortic aneurysm.


charles biscieglia says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:26 pm

AVR 12/01/10, developed pain in right shoulder about 3 to 4 weeks latter. Not bad during day when active but almost imposible to sleep when I’m laying down. Hope to get some answers in the next 10 days when I go to the Cleveland Clinic for my first post surgery check-up. Will keep posted.


Marlane Holtshouse says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Hi All, You bet I had clicking and my Dr said it was because I was over doing. As to the shoulder pain I didn’t have it but I have had numb fingers index and middle due to them hitting the medial nerve. I had PT but the nails are still numb. Did anyone else have this and how long did it last. ,for me it has been 6 months and counting. Don’t worry about clicking just be aware of what you are doing that might cause it. Marlan


Barb Denomey says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Just had to comment. I had my aortic valve replaced, and aortic root repair done on January 5th 2009. I had more pain in my shoulder blades than I did from the incision itself. At times, it was almost unbearable, and I didn’t think it would go away. Thankfully, it did, and I now feel wonderful, and happy to have had my first year surgiversary with a good report. Hang in there, it gets much better.


Adrian Bishop says on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Hi Adam: Long time no write. My valve replacement was June 2008. I recently had a very unpleasant surprise, intense abdominal pain turned out to be a gangrenous gall bladder and failing appendix, and general pollution in the abdominal cavity. I was acutely aware thru all the diagnosis and recovery of my ‘nearby’ bovine valve and was very concerned about a possibly spreading infection. I told everyone who came near about my concerns and the surgeon and recovery team were excellent, so in the end, no worries – except for the massive cut in my belly – I now have a scar from my neck to my groin, when the two are viewed from a bit away. Incidentally the recovery ward staff were very interested in the bio-valve – I had many nursing visitors who just wanted a listen! Another observation, the lifting and body movement techniques I learned during my heart surgery helped a lot with mobility after the ‘gut check’.

As to this week’s query, I can’t say I have observed sternum clicking, though when I turn at night I sometimes ‘creak’. I had arthritus already in my shoulders so I cannot tell if pain and clicking there is new or not.
Keep on tickin’
Adrian B.


Kerrigan says on February 3rd, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I had worse than shoulder pain. When I awoke from the surgery my arm was completely numb and unresponsive. Apparently the positioning of my left arm caused a pinching of the ulnar? nerve which paralized it. It was two very scary days before any feeling returned. After a year of hard work it is getting better but still not back to normal. There is a numb area on the back of the upper arm still. And typing is still a bumble sometimes with the left hand.
The aortic valve and ascending aorta were replaced successfully.
I was told the anestheist should have been on top of the situation.
As to clicking, there was a little up until about 4 months. My cardio followup people said it shouldn’t go past 6 months a’clicking.


Jean Karloski says on February 3rd, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I too had shoulder clicking and not necessarily pain….even now after a year post-op I will occasionally have a shoulder issue, like something is moving back into place. I assumed it was connected to the sternum. It is just nice to know that it is happening to other patients as well. Jean Karloski


Dale P. says on February 3rd, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I can’t remember exactly when I sent that question to Adam, but my sternum no longer clicks, and my shoulder is fine, too. Paul, I’m sure I didn’t have a dislocation (although the thought did occur to me), because the shoulder got better on its own. And Randy, I think you’re right about the clavicle — I had a fracture there as a kid, too, so I suppose that could have contributed.

I’m now three months post-op and feeling really good. My chest is still sore, however, and I’m still pretty limited in how much I can pick up without getting sorer.


Danielle says on February 3rd, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Hi Adam,

My surgery was on July 7, 2009. I don’t know about “clicking” because I am deafened, but after reading about should pain, I remember that my shoulder wasn’t really painful, but my shoulder and arm got achy and heavy. I always held my arm at a right angle to my body. That does not seem to happen any more, though.


Doug says on February 3rd, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I had the Ross procedure 2 years ago and my sternum still clicks. It doesn’t hurt, but when I stretch or turn the right way, it will click/pop.


Joe says on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:03 pm

After AVR on Dec. 29, 2008 I didn’t experience any clicking but did start having shoulder pain. Think about it – the bones and muscles takes a huge amount of abuse when getting cracked open like an egg and then held there for several hours with a steel crank mechanism! Not to mention I found I was carrying myself differently due to some post-op aches and paines.

I went to see my chiropractor as Amy (above) said she did. He very carelfully examined me and did some gentle but firm manipulation for my shoulders and ribs. He then gave me some very easy and basic exercises to do to rebuild my upper body muscle tone. Soon the shoulder pain went away. I know some people don’t believe in chiropractic, but as long as you know and trust the person, your experience can be very positive and productive.


Debbie says on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Although, I didn’t have sternum pain, my right shoulder and arm was very sore for about 6 weeks post surgery. I talked with my cardiologist a couple times and she reassured me since it was improving and I wasn’t having any other symptoms that it was from positioning from the surgery. She was right and said it was very common. I’m now 10 weeks from surgery & feeling much better but if I over do it my right arm & shoulder is the first to start aching. Hope this helps. :)


MJ Samer says on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I had my tricuspid valve replaced Oct. 23, 2009 (bovine tissue valve) and also experienced clicking in my sternum after surgery. This was my 3rd open heart surgery since childhood –I’m now 62 — so healing was a little more difficult. My surgeon was moderately concerned about the clicking and said to be very careful not to raise my elbows above my shoulders or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the first 8 weeks. It’s essentially a broken bone that has to heal and since you can’t put your chest in a cast, you have to be careful w/movement and strain on it. I took my doctor’s advice and the clicking in the sternum eventually went away. I also had pain in the sternum which eased about 7 or 8 weeks post-surgery and is now essentially gone. I had some shoulder clicking, too and still hear that now and then, but never had any shoulder pain. I also had, as a couple of other people mentioned, numbness in my left hand after surgery. My finger tips are still a little numb. Iwas also told that was from the strange position your arm is in during surgery.

BTW, your wonderful book was a big help to me before and after the surgery!


Bill Harwell says on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Very interesting post today…I had a bovine valve replacement and aortic graft performed in October, 2008. I haven’t had the shoulder pain, but have experienced the sternum clicking during exercise class; I was doing a kind of “reverse crunch” while laying on a stability ball. It was kind of un-nerving and I stopped doing it…didn’t really hurt, but it was weird! It’s the only time that I’ve experienced it, but the responses here tell me that I wasn’t imagining things.


debbie says on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I had an aortic valve replacement, mechanical valve, on July 24, 2009 and was actually doing okay until I started getting more and more active….the discomfort in my chest got worse and worse and my cardiologist felt I had managed to have the sternum open a smidge and had some sort of inflammation in the chest….I seem to alternate between a painful sternum to shoulder or shoulder blades….
I have two extra ribs as some people have and I just chalk it up, the shoulder pain, to the surgery and this.
The surgeon also explained the sternum was now like a broken bone and ordered me to wear the binder I had worn from surgery on…it acts as a cast as best as it can, and because of my problem it would be best to continue wearing it.
I can’t drive comfortably without it most times, and if I don’t wear it I pay for it later that day….seems one foot forward one back for me.
Right now we are also trying to find out why as I’ve become more active I’ve also become breathless, going up five steps leaves me stopping to catch my breath and coughing…sometimes it’s just talking for more than a few minutes that does it to me…
For some reason I thought I’d be walking and even running by now…back to life as it was a few years back….
Soon I hope….but thank you for this information as some tidbits here have been very helpful….


Curt says on February 3rd, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hello. I had my BAV and ascending root repaired on Sept 10, 09. I’ve had a few sternum clicks, which I thought was normal. But now that it’s been mentioned, I’ve had discomfort in my shoulder area for a little while…I thought it was due to my cardiac rehab and shoulder presses. It’s not unbearable and happens randomly, but I thought I would pass it along.


S. Urbanowicz says on February 4th, 2010 at 12:39 am

This is interesting. I had mitral valve repair and atrial/septal aneurysm repair in July 2008 by minimally invasive surgery. The worst pain I had with the entire process was my left shoulder and that was after I got home. It was very painful and I was told that it was probably “frozen shoulder” which happens often after heart surgery. I continued to exercise and it gradually got better but it still clicks when I exert myself. I don’t have the same range of motion as the other shoulder but it is a lot better that it was. It will get better!


peter says on February 4th, 2010 at 2:32 am

I had my bi-cuspid valve and ascending aorta replaced on Jan 19 2009..I was 58 yrs old……I too had the clicking for months, but..all gone now…
However, my right pectoral has hurt since the surgery…was numb for a while too…and if I lean my elbow on a table, and rest my chin in my hand, my chin hurts…and a small pain–nothing overwhelming–runs down my neck and into my sternum…i am assuming it may be temp. nerve damage or irritation…
I was open for 8 hrs, and that’s a lot of tugging on your chest muscles…and I know that some things take years to get back to normal….
But now…….I can hike the hills of SANTORINI Greece and NOT LOOSE MY BREATH!


gayle renella says on February 4th, 2010 at 9:00 am

I also experience a tightness under my left shoulder blade that will snap and be relieved by a deep breath and release. It’s as if something pops into place. It happens everyday. I am now doing sit ups and push ups, yoga and pilates, cardio and some weights. Exercise is crucial to recovery and regaining strength. Do something everyday.


Mary Ferraro says on February 4th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

First, I must say my heart is wonderful!! My surgeon & his team were awesome. Usually I read everyone’s reply before I type but not this time. My shoulder pain had me really concerned in the hospital and was worse than anything to do with my incision. Weeks after I got home my shoulder pain worsened (I was told the nerves were healing and my brain was suddenly being told that I had damaged shoulders . . ouche!) until finally it was making me breathe wrong (short, not full breathes). There was a point at which I stopped going to cardiac rehab because the shoulder pain was making me cry. It was very upsetting. Could not lay on either side for much. My cardiologist was on vacation and the one who filled-in for him seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. I went to an orthopedist and she sent me right over to physical therapy several times a week for several weeks and it was WONDERFUL. They put “warm/moist/sand” bags over my shoulders while I sat in a chair and then they manipulated/massaged my shoulders and upper back. Then I had to do three different kinds of stretching and strengthening exercises but it was all very worth it. Also, the pain meds helped too but wanted to get off them and be healed. The physical therapsit and orthopedist said I had damage to my Upper Trapezius. It is a big triangular muscle that holds your head and shoulders onto your back. A doctor/acquaintence told me that shoulders can get damaged in any surgery when twisted by accident by the anaesthesia team. Sometimes they hold an arm or two in the wrong position during heart surgery for too long and that can cause shoulder damage too. It is not related to your heart but the pain is nonethe less dangerous because it is so unrelenting and you cannot really sleep thru it without pain meds. Then you have to walk around like a partial zombie just to be able to breathe . . . not good. Now only the left side clicks but I am much better and it has been 15 months. My heart is wonderful and I am at the gym for an hour 4x/week.


Kevin K says on February 5th, 2010 at 7:44 am

I’m on day 8 of the recovery process, I had a benign tumor removed from my Aorta Vavle and required it’s replacement.

The other day I noticed a couple “clicks” or knuckle pops in my chest when I was shifting around in my chair. My shoulders are sore and it is sometimes difficult to get comfortable but I was told this was to be expected. I mean really, when you think about how the surgeon had you opened up like a clam, there’s bound to be soreness at the connection points. I feel better everyday, if my sterum continues to pop, I’ll try to coordinate my left knee and play a tune.
Kevin K.


Micki says on February 7th, 2010 at 9:02 pm

My surgery was June 1, 2009. I am still experiencing clicking and movement of my sternum. Recent CT scan indicates that it is not healing properly despite all the limitations for upper body movement I have followed. The doctors have kept a close watch on this, and now are suggesting surgery. They are not sure what they will actually do until they open me up and see what is happening. My first CT scan indicated some loosening of the wires, but since then the sternum is not even healing scar tissue to scar tissue. I was advised that surgery is necessary as my sternum is “soft” and weakened. Surgery is scheduled for the 18th of this month.


Robert J. Hester says on February 8th, 2010 at 5:00 am




Ron Laurie says on February 8th, 2010 at 11:41 am

Is the pain and clicking any way conected with the healing process? Would the procedure developed by Dr Paul Fedak in Calgary Alberta Canada possibly alleviate this? He is gluing the sternum together with Kryptonite Glue then stapling with titanium clips. Pain recovery is claimed to be in hours; not weeks.


Lucy Grubbs says on February 9th, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I too had surgery nov 16th, 2009 and i experienced slight clicking in my chest, it was strange, i wasn’t doing anything at the time. But i just relaxed and then it would go away, it was strange. but no pain.

now all i have is what i call incision pain, it is tender and i have tried maderma and polysporin but it is still tender,….hmmm


Doug Livernois says on February 10th, 2010 at 9:32 am

shoulder pain…surgery for triple by-pass and aortic valve replacement..met with surgeon yesterday..Dr.Chen @ Emory..a class act..tells me soreness can continue for 6 to 12 months…my main problem has been atrial fibulation in and out…had the problem prior…he too feels as healing progreeses this too will pass…he states inflamation peaks after 8 to 12 weeks and then things begin to “quiet down”


Jamie Patopoff says on February 10th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Hi Adam,
Oh man yes I had a lot of clicking. One year after my surgery, I had my wires cut and removed from my chest ( They were about ready to pop through my skin).. For some odd reason that really seemed to help.
Jamie Patopoff


robin marchesi says on February 11th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Hi Adam,

Many thanks for your observations.

I had an emergency Aortic Valve replacement in India about 18 months ago.
Actually am from England.
Here is a link to the letter I wrote to my surgeon about 10 days after the operation.

I hope you find it as helpful as your own words.

I’ve never had my wires removed, I thought they were for life!

Best wishes

Robin Marchesi


Duane Hunt says on February 12th, 2010 at 9:07 am

So far, no clicking in my sternum, but I am experiencing pain in the shoulders, along with the incision site and the sternum itself.


Judy Pearson says on February 13th, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I had 7 bypasses in April 2009 – about 10 months ago – and I have a lot of clicking in my chest. I’m 65 year old grandma, very active and that clicking is driving me just a bit nuts. There’s no pain, but? Does anyone know if I have to do something about it? Go back to cardiologist? Will it go away on its own?


George Zeber says on February 13th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

It was nice to read the other comments as I have a lot of questions and concerns. I had Aortic Valve and Aorta replacement about 3 weeks ago. The only place I have experienced any real discomfort has been in my shoulders and my right shoulder has been worse than the left. I am a 59 year old male and in good physical shape and have not experienced any of the clicking as of yet. I just wish I could get past the shoulder pain.


Meigs says on February 15th, 2010 at 1:47 am

I was told by my cardiologist that my shouoder pain was from the position during surgery. They push your shoulders back as far as possible on the operating table. My shoulders and especially around my shoulder blades hurt, but the pain was gone after about a month.


Adrian Bishop says on February 18th, 2010 at 8:55 am

A brief follow-up to my earlier post, having read the others. My sternum was clinched with stainless steel clips which I was concerned would show up on TSA screens. No worries, however. I get the occasional creak when turning at night. Incision pain has been reduced by gently massaging the incision site, in the direction of the sewed tissues. This was suggested by my chiropractor. I have recently resumed ‘minimal force’ chiropractic – energy and sense of well-being are hugely improved. As for our ‘open heart procedures’, an accupuncturist friend suggests that our bodies don’t know about surgery. As far as they are concerned we have been attacked by a saber-tooth tiger! And we take time to recover! Her accupuncture treatments after surgery did help.
Good luck today, Micki!
Adrian B.


Carol Bennett says on February 25th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I, too, had and still have, pain in my right shoulder and my sternum. I had my aortic valve replaced July 8, 2009 with a bovine valve. I had far less pain and trauma than I expected. I also have an ileostomy (1-2006) because of long-term ulcerative colitis, and because I was given plavix following my heart surgery, I experienced bleeding from my stoma and was readmitted to the hospital Aug. 11; on August 14 I had kidney failure and congestive heart failure. I have been off the plavix since 8-11; I am doing remarkably well. Side note: I had the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers of my left hand numb immediately after surgery and some numbness in my arm. I have mostly recovered but still have a small amount of tingling in my left hand. All in all, the surgery was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. My surgeon, Dr. Prevosti, was fantastic; extremely competent and compassionate. I am 79 years old.


Mary Ann says on March 1st, 2010 at 8:45 am

My daughter age 54 is having her mitral valve repaired (we hope). She has decided to have the thoracotomy. She is an active kindergarten teacher but is getting tired.

Dr. Morris (Mercy Hospital in Sacramento, CA) will do the procedure. He says he can repair it better without the robotic method. He is rated the best in this area. He did a sternotomy approach 5 1/2 yrs. ago on my husband who is now 82 but looks and acts 62! He had both the mitral valve and tricuspid repaired. He just bought a sail boat and is taking sailing lessons.

My daughter is really apprehensive about the procedure. She needs a good blog to follow for before and after. Her surgery is scheduled for April 14.


Judy Pearson says on March 2nd, 2010 at 12:05 pm

When I last posted I had lots of questions, but no answers to me “clicking” issue. I have since visited the doctor who did the bypass surgery. He took x-rays to compare with those taken right after the surgery 10 months ago. It was a huge relief when he pulled up both x-rays and we saw zero change in sternum alignment. Although the clicking (which I feel as much as hear) is unnerving, it is not painful and is certainly tolerable. Apparently there is a lot of cartilage in the sternal area and that’s what’s doing the clicking. It seems a bit like what I notice when someone is popping their knuckles. Best wishes to all recovering clickers!


robin marchesi says on March 13th, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for your post Adrian. It is now over 18 months since my surgery occasionally I get the ‘twitch/spasm in my left shoulder. Interesting observation re the ‘body’ not knowing the difference between OHS and being attacked, very true. I hear the clicking but I don’t feel it physically. Sometimes at night I blame it for keeping me awake, other times I find it comforting. I once thought myself like the crocodile in Peter Pan, who swallowed a clock! You have to learn how to live with replacement surgery, get to know another part of you!


Rhonda M says on March 23rd, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Hi Adam

I just had a quadruple bypass surgery 3 weeks ago. I am also having the weird sensation of popping and clicking in my sternum and collar bone. I also have slight pain in my right shoulder blade. I have not started PT yet as the first appointment isnt until April. You say this is normal? Should I still inform my doctor immediately or wait until I go in to see him for my appointment set in a week?


Ralph E says on March 29th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hi Adam,

I had bypass surgery 4 weeks ago, and I am experiencing both sternum clicking (mild) and shoulder pain (severe). My Doc states that this is totally normal. I start cardiac rehab this afternoon, and will report back if I learn anything new.



mike says on April 11th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

My son 4 days out of aortic valve replacement (st jude mech)
has very little pain in his chest but severe left shoulder pain, other than that so far everything has gone good, but he tires very easily, maybe discharged tomorrow


wendy says on April 18th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Rt shoulder pain post sternotomy in 2009. I was diaganosed with tendonitis and given steroid injection. It did help, but I do still get the grating sensation and noise when I exercise


Gil H says on May 11th, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Hi! I came across this site/thread after searching for clicking after heart surgery! I’m at 5 weeks post-op…had a quadruple bypass…and am experiencing clicking around the sternum. I had an X-ray of my chest last week, and was told (and saw) that the sternum incision is knotted, but not fully healed. The wires are all in place and not stretched or broken, which is good!

My worry is that my sternum is unusually large. The surgeon told me it’s one of the thickest he’s ever seen, and they had issue trying to cut through it.

The cliking is driving me crazy, though! It’s difficult to work at my desk, turn and reach, without it happening. A little (click!) unnerving, but (click!) happy to see (click!) I am not alone, and (click!) that it appears (click!) to be fairly (click!) normal.

As soon as I was cleared by the surgeon last week, I went straight to my chiropractor. I had severe spasms in my back, between my shoulders, especially on the right side. After one visit and some ultrasound and electro-stimulation, I felt so much better! I will continue to see the chiro for around a month, and really get things back to where they should be. He was very surprised I could stand as erect as I could at only 5 weeks post-op.

Stretching and relaxing help tremendously with both issues, as does paying attention to proper posture, which after 50 years of not doing so, is difficult!

Be well!


Bev UK says on May 16th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I had pulmonary stenosis when born, open heart surgery at 5yrs old to widen pulmonary valve & then 2 years ago at age 34 I had my pulmonary valve replaced with a 27mm bovine valve… I too have recently noticed clicking in the centre of my chest, on the scar area…also a blueish tone like bruising, but it isnt bruises as been there a long while near it…I also have shoulder discomfort & about 2 months ago had very sharp chest pains opposite side of chest to my heart, went to drs had an episode of this in drs waiting room. Got sent to A&E in ambulance, had 2 more episoides in hospital, then got discharged with paracetamol after 2 hrs of tests & ecgs etc… ;( Think this must be normal then? Got my next full check up Nov 2010…Thanks ;) Bev x Cumbria, UK


Pardeep says on August 6th, 2010 at 10:38 am

Hi Adam,
I had my coronary artery bypass grafting in January this year . I recovered fully without any problem including clicking n sternum or clicking in right shoulder, but now after about 5 months of my surgery I am experiencing pain in my both shoulders and upper arm areas. I feel pain in lifting my both hands diagonal to my body and also while in position to scratch my back.When I told my doctor about the pain which occurred occasionally after about three months of surgery my doctor assured me that its normal after surgery and will recede in due course of time, but it is entirely opposite of what she said then.Have you come across any similar experiences?or solution to thereof.
Pardeep Joshi


Sharon says on August 10th, 2010 at 1:32 am

I am 3 weeks from having mitral and aortic valve replacement. When I take a rather deep breath, I can feel that flip flop or pop sound in the heart region. I wondered if it was my heart beat, I was told to walk,walk,walk and I do but I think I do too much of it, Thats when I started feeling the flip/flop. Its annoying but I get anxious that somethings not right. Any body else have the same thing?


kitty says on August 23rd, 2010 at 2:26 pm

while still in the hospital i started having shoulder pain. I asked my doctor about it he was not concerned. I am now 1 year post op and still having svere shoulder pain. after the first 6 months i had asked my cardiologist about it and he said it was too soon after surgery. any thoughts?


Bob says on September 7th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I am 5 weeks into recovery after aortic valve replacement. I have minimal chest pain. My chest is more sensitive than usual, almost as if it feel asleep and is now tender to the touch. I have no clicking, it could be the titanium chest plate which was fastened to hold my sternum in place(this may be a new procedure. I have to work at walking upright without slouching because of my upper back and shoulder pain. It is encouraging to know I am not alone.


sam says on September 8th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hi Adam,
When I went for my rehab assessment, the doctor asked me if I was having any shoulder pain, which I replied no, he said it is normal to have shoulder pain. Just my 2cents.



julia says on October 9th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I had cabg surgery on 2/23/2008,I did have the clicking in my sternum,and still have some pain at the site where they started my surgery.I have some muscle pain yet.But my shoulder pain is still like it was in the beginning.They used a mammary artery to do my surgery and my heart did the pumping I didn’t have to have the heart pump just life support.


Aleem Ahmed says on February 14th, 2011 at 8:33 am

I have clicking sound in my shoulder joints of both side and in complete vertebrae even also in wrist joints since four yrs but no pain in joints i m also suffering from FIBROMYALGIYA i feel discomfort by this clicking is this is a disease


Renuka Pandey says on February 16th, 2011 at 4:13 am

My mother had Bypass 9 months back. She has started having pain in right shoulder and arm. Can anyone help me in knowing the cause and the remedy.


jeff says on April 9th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I have recently (nov of 2010) had Open Heart surgey to replace a bicuspid aortic valve. I feel great. Although i did go through a rough couple of weeks initially ! The surgery itself was nothing; but the back and shoulder pain drove me nuts. I had a muscular type pain in my neck and travelled down under my shoulder blade that was insane. Its the only reason i took pain meds. The incision was basicaly painless. Now 4 months later i am having some shoulder pain but it is most likely arthritis not surgery related. But ; i have a strange clack in my collarbone that clacks/clunks everytime i reach accross my body with my left arm and then straighten that same arm back out. I can put my right hand on the collarbone and sternum connection point and feel an erie clunk everytime. t freaks people out because they can here it. Its not extremely painful but is sometimes more than others. It radiates up into my neck some as well. What do think is going on ??
thanks jeff


Mike says on April 14th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I had CABG late August 2010.I’ve had no clicking but I still don’t have normal range of motion in raising my right arm and shoulder above my head.I also have a boney protuberance at bottom of incision. Its very prominent when I lay down. Like most report above – when mentioned to doctors – “that’s normal” is the chorus.
You’ve got me thinking though – I do have significant shoulder pain on both sides during sleep.I change sides and in an hour or so the pain does too!


jeff says on April 14th, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Mike this is weird. But as i stated above the clunking i have is happenning on a regular bases as if my collarbone and sternum are not connected or something ? I go to the DR monday and i will post again uppon hearing his response. From what i am beginning to believe is that it is normal. yuck. Anyway i am blessed to be here ! A clunk here and there might be just fine if ya know what i mean :}


Renuka Pandey says on April 15th, 2011 at 12:47 am

Dear All,
My mother ( 60 Years old) had Heart Bypass Surgery 9 months back. After 6 months from surgery her Right Shoulder, Arm and Neck started paining. She visited doctor and Dr said it is because of Arthritis. But she never had Arthritis problem ever.

Pl let me know is it common having pain in right shoulder after Heart Bypass surgery,and what your doctor is saying, it is because of what reason.
Can anyone help me in knowing the cause and the remedy. She has continues pain in Right arm.


ASHOK SUDHAKARAN says on April 18th, 2011 at 2:21 am

Dear Adam,
Its just 4 weeks since my quadruple CABG done on 27 Apr 2011. Yes, I too get the popiing at the sternum and am quite worried. I also have slight pain in the right side of the sternum area. There is some pain on both collar bones when i lift my hands. But I guess these are part of the recovery.
I continue my exercises religiously and hope things will settle down.
Have a doctor appointment next week and will take up on these and post you if any specific concerns.
But on the whole, its good to have a nice ticking heart inspite of all the cliks and pops. The only worry is snapping the steel bindings that keep the sternum in one piece. Does anyone have any idea if the sternum heals and becomes a single bone? I sure hope so.


Mike says on April 18th, 2011 at 10:03 am

Dear Ashok,
Try to relax – a bunch! You are barely out of the hospital.I was still afraid to turn on to my side in bed at your stage of recovery!! My wife was doing about everything for and with me at the same stage at home.EVERYTHING!
Yes, the sternum will knit together just fine.


jeff says on April 18th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I mentioned i would post after my Dr appt today 04/18/11. Well heres the deal ; my Dr said that the clunking i have at the collar bone and sternum area is nothing of concern per the Dr. He told me not to worry or do anything about it. so i will just continue to wince myself , and gross out others with my popping collar bone. He did remove me off of Multaq 800mgs for my afib early on after surgery,
and to hopefully pickup my heart rate from 47bpm. He also added 2mg Wrifrin to get me from 1.7 to 2.0+ on my INR. I feel great and i am on the upward path i do believe. Anyway thats it for now.


Ashok Sudhakaran says on April 19th, 2011 at 9:57 am

Hi Mike,
Good to hear from you. It’s comforting to note that all I am going through is normal.
I feel good and am walking 20 mins four times day and also climb a flight of stairs coupled with a few arm lifting and breathing exercises. I do sleep on my sides although sometimes it is a little difficult.
But on the whole am upbeat and positive so altogether feel good!


Paul says on May 11th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi There
I had a triple bypass op seven weeks ago and get the clicking from my right shoulder and the top of my sternum. The clicking in the shoulder fells like a reoccurance of a Rotacuff injury i had about 12 months ago from playing golf. I had physio and it went away but seems to have returned post op.Im hoping it will fix itself over time. I have to see the cardio in the next few weeks and i will let you know his view.


Nan says on May 22nd, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I had open heart surgery in December 2010 to repair my Mitral Valve. I haven’t had the “clicking” that I read about here, but have experienced the shoulder pain. It just started about a month ago on the left side. I just saw my cardiologist and he said the same thing I’ve heard from a lot of people, it’s normal, but it’s also pretty uncomfortable, more so at night.

I’m a freelance writer and spend a lot of time online. Does anyone have suggestions for exercises or homeopathic remedies that may help with the pain? Thanks in advance.


Renuka Pandey says on May 23rd, 2011 at 3:40 am

My mother ( 60 Years old) had Heart Bypass Surgery 10 months back. After 6 months from surgery her Right Shoulder, Arm and Neck started paining. She visited doctor and Dr said it is because of Arthritis. But she never had Arthritis problem ever.

Does anyone have suggestions for exercises that may help with the pain? Thanks.

waiting for your reply.



Pat Lynch says on June 4th, 2011 at 9:25 am

Just had quad bypass. I’m only 41! I’m in great shape (was, anyway), an active construction worker, but my mom’s side has tendencies to have cholesterol problems and that’s what happened to me.

I have experienced clicking/clunking in the sternum. Less now that I’m keeping my arms in as much as I can and lifting things closer to my body. When lying in bed and need to shift around for comfort my sternum often clunks.

My left shoulder especially and to an extent my right have been giving me some pain, but I attributed that to not using them very much.

I’m in my fourth week after surgery and have been off the oxycodone for about two weeks now, which is good. I realized the seriousness of my condition once I started feeling the pain!

Thanks for this site.


sherry says on June 4th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I am a 38 year old female and had open heart surgery in 1990 in Birmingham. Septal defect. I have had continuous pain in my left shoulder, almost feels like arthritis. One of the biggest problems that I have also had is from sternum pain. I couldnt figure out what exactly was the issue, but I have had problems purchasing bras ever since the surgery. It has been over 20 years and I can not find a bra that doesnt either put pressure in areas that hurt like my sternum or that will provide sufficient support to my chest. Since the surgery, the muscles that once supported my chest are no longer there, I just always assumed that since all of the muscles were cut through during the surgery that I would always have issues with the this way. Have you heard of any highly supportive/comfortable bras for after sternotomy? Thank you.


Jeff says on June 6th, 2011 at 11:19 am

I can tell you this based upon my stumbling on to it out of desperation ! I discovered that if i massaged or had my neck and traps massaged frequent and consistent , that after a few days the pain in my shoulder blade and shoulders areas subsided tremendously. I have continued to do the best to do it my self either with my hands or a heavy duty electric messager like at the chiropractor , and it helps lots !! Like i had mentioned a few mails back, the worst part of my heart surgery was my shoulder pain. I feel great now !! Although i still click at the sternum/collarbone connection pretty loudly and frequently, it doesnt bother me any longer. Good luck to all , and just stretch, message and excercise at it will all be a thing of the past.


Pat Lynch says on June 6th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Good deal. NEXT QUESTION: The clicking, does it continue indefinitely? I’m a construction worker and am accustomed to throwing 120lb sheets of drywall around, carrying them two at a time (to show off, of course). When will I be back to that point? Or are my showing off days over?


Mike says on June 8th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I’m 27 years older than you. I’m 10 months past my CABG.
My physical ability – strength,coordination,etc – took a lot of rebuilding time. I’m now beyond rehab and back in my regular gym 3-4 days a week.That said – I’m operating at about 60-70% of what I was doing before the surgery.Yes,I’m being cautious and building back up gradually but I don’t think I’ll ever try to match what I was doing a year ago.Your “showing off” days may be a possibility for you (considering your youth) but I’d approach such stuff cautiously.


Esther says on August 9th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I had aortic valve replacement on July 12, 2011. A week after I got home I experienced pain in my right arm, shoulder and hand. It is a numb tingling pain and sometimes throbs mostly in y hand. Two fingers and my thumb are always “asleep”. Any sudden movements cause excrutiating pain like all the blood rushes to the tips of my fingers. And I am now on week 5 and still no relief even with Advil and a heating pad.


Rae says on August 11th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I’ve got a funny feeling I’m going to become a regular on here!

I’ve just had my second AVR (4 weeks ago). First AVR was December 2000.
I’m 30. I just wanted to put a few minds at rest.

First clicking: Yup is normal! It’s not pleasant, yet neither is it painful. I used to click from the first time I had it, random clicks every so often, once a month ish, nothing too big. Then I had a spell of a year about 7 years later where my sternum clicked all the time. It passed and stopped doing it again (it couldn’t make its mind up).

This time I’m clicking a lot, but them it’s only been 4 weeks. Obviously careful use of arms and not turning too quick etc, will prevent them from happening. But if they do, know that you’re not alone and you’re not going to fall apart (hopefully JOKE)! They will subside, they might return a little, then they’ll go again! You might never get them again! We all click in our legs and feet, hands etc, so treat it like that!

Pat – I was soon back to where I was before my surgery last time, yet I would walk on the side of caution. It’s not just a case of weather you can get back to where you were, as I’m sure after the first three months, you’ll be able to rebuild slowly. It’s more a case of not straining inside! Don’t put your heart under unnecessary stress. Cardio vascular exercise is necessity, but lifting heavy weights, I’d give it a miss. Go for one sheet not two! I always liked to prove I was a strong gal, I could out do guys, but this time…I don’t feel the need, I’d rather look after my heart. Hey at the end of the day you’re hardcore, you’ll be lifting 120lbs and you can say you had your sternum opened, that’s far more impressive than two from one of your co-workers!
Listen to your body, do over do it, and build up slow and no, the clicking is not there forever!

Shoulder pain: totally normal! Think about it, your body has been through a lot. You’re not using your arms as freely for a while, and your muscles start to seize. It’s true the pain is usually worse at night, try sitting up more, support your sides with pillows. In the day, move your arms a little, try and rotate your shoulders. It’s all about making sure you don’t go stiff!

Wow, think I should shut up, sorry Adam xx


Rae says on August 11th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Oh sorry, one last think I forgot.

Numb sensations: totally normal. They can last a few days, in my case a few weeks, or a month or so. They do go. It’s all part of your nerves and muscles settling down. Again it’s normal. If it’s causing you pain however, do get it checked out. A simple trip to the docs could reveal a little trapped nerve, or they may send you for physiotherapy, don’t suffer with lots of pain. Gentle muscle use, flex and make a little trip if the pain doesn’t subside. Nothing to worry about, but there’s just no point you being in pain!

R xx


Pat Lynch says on August 24th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Rae – thank you for that excellent response. My clicking has gone way down, now I’m more concerned about my muscles healing right so I’m being more careful.

Thanks again.


Pat Lynch says on August 24th, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Mike, thanks very much for your response, also!

I’m going for 110% but I don’t seem to be healing as fast as I’m accustomed to. I’ve always considered myself most similar to Wolverine in my mutant gift of healing rapidly. I expected to leave the hospital the day after surgery (it turned out to be the 2nd day but I blame it on my wife’s nervousness).

One super outcome is I’ve been forced to change my habits, especially my diet (my wife is tiny but very very tough!). I’ve lost about 15 pounds since the attack, the last of the 40 I’ve lost in the two years we’ve been married. And she is a great cook, so no jokes!

So I’m hoping to get back to “X-Men” level of physicality in a short time… But I was hoping it would be shorter than it is turning out to be. I’m 41; I know I’m not 23 anymore, but I feeeeeel so young! It has been 15 weeks, which doesn’t sound like that much, but my chest muscles (not the sternum) click and snap and burn.

Ah well. I’m so happy to be alive and on the right track. In fact, my wife and I have started classes here at Central Carolina Comm College. We’re going to be certified Nurse Assistant I’s!

And as to this site, I’m very encouraged – and it’s not “misery loves company” type – I’m strengthened by you who have experienced what I am going through. This is an excellent site!

And that’s all I have to say about that.



debra lloyd says on September 6th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

My husband had triple bypass surgery last Monday and was discharged Thursday, remarkable, but he is a hard man to keep down. I know he is not totally compliant but yesterday he complained of a clicking in his sternum. Iam a nurse and I listened to his chest during breathing and moving and could not hear any clicks. I hope this new symptom reminds him that he must do as instructed re lifting and certain movements. I have been looking at alot of information on sternum clicks and it seems that it does occur, none the less he is seeing his doctor tomorrow. Thanks for all the input


Rae says on September 6th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Hi Debra,

Yes they are very normal, and do subside after a few weeks. After my first surgery I didn’t have many at first, but had then years later. This time (8weeks ago) I have had them from about week one. I had more of them when I was stiff. The more flexible I became, the less I had. Now I only have a few a day, if that.

Tell your husband to take it easy with lifting, I’m sure as a nurse you’re keeping him in check. He shouldn’t lift much at all for the first 4 weeks, and even now at 8 weeks, I’m very careful and distribute weight well.

After 8 weeks is a good time to do a “little” more. The bones rejoining need to be worked a little, but not mush. Certainly no strain.

The clicking should get better. Still wise to visit the doctor, as they also need to be sure the sternum is healing well.

Let us know how he’s going on! Best of health to him and yourself.

Rae x


Mike says on September 6th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

9/1/2011 was my one year anniversary of leaving the hospital after CABG.Pretty much everything is back to normal but that zipper down my chest is sensitive to the touch – a reminder to be careful in all ways health wise I think.As to shoulder – I do not have full range of motion in my right should since the operation.I’m beginning to think that will not change.I lost 30 lbs. just after leaving hospital and have kept it off without trying very hard honestly.Proud of that.


Morgan says on September 11th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I am a 57 year old male in good health, I had a mechanical aortic valve and part of my ascending aorta replaced to correct a congenital defect. I had my surgery on 4.6.11, and it went quite well with no problems post op. However, I July I did experience an acute soreness in my shoulder, back and chest, I can best describe it as the kind of pain you feel when you pinch a muscle. I got a massage and took tylenol but nothing helped, although heat did decrease the discomfort. After about 4 days it just went away. I experienced another bout of the same kind of pain this past week. This time the pain was accompanied by a fever. I have had this for about 4 days and am treating it with heat and tylenol. I would love to hear if anyone else has found an effective treatment for this kind of pain.


Ajay says on October 2nd, 2011 at 7:33 am

Few months back I had the open heart bypass surgery. I have recovered quite well and joined back to my work within 3 months. But recently I have been experiencing pain and aching in both the shoulders, especially while sleeping sideways. As a result I had to take pain killer at times.

Please tell me the reasons of this pain and advise what are the remedial actions should I take.

Is this pain is normal after few months of bypass surgery?
If yes, how long will it take to disappear?


jeff says on October 2nd, 2011 at 12:44 pm

At 52yrs old and 11months since double open heart has concluded to me that i will live with this distinct klunk at the collarbone/sternum joint. Every time i lift my left arm over head or cross it over my body it klunks load. Like everyone in the room can hear it in a quiet room. Its eary. ThankGod its not painful. My dr says to leave it alone unless it brings pain with it. He says its the clavicular/sternatic joint that neverhealed properly after being busted open. He also said mot alot of surgeons like to do surgery in that area because of the proximaty to the heart. My dr said he was comfortable doing it but said to wait until it caused pain or discomfort. SO…. For now its a convertsation piece, and kinda freaks people out. Hey…. Myheart works great though!


Morgan Ives says on October 3rd, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I had a mechanical aortic valve and part of the ascending aorta replaced in April. Recovery has been good and typical of other I have read about. I have experienced two bouts of pretty severe shoulder pain that manifested in the trapezius muscles in my upper back but could also be felt across my upper chest. Both times the pain lasted 4-5 days and then went away. I self-treated it with heat and tylenol. I also went and had my doctor take a look to see if I had some kind of infection and I did not. Would like to hear if anyone has had a similar experience. thanks


frank says on October 3rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced (st jude mech) and my ascending aorta repared (anuesym). The surgery was 4/28/2010. This was also my 70th birthday. I also have pain in both shoulders. The right shoulder pain is more intense than the left. I play golf several times a week but the pain doesn’t effect my game. I did some work using a chain saw, which greatly increase the left shoulder pain. The pain is worse at night and in the morning. I too have been wondering about the pain and how long it will last. I really appreciate these blogs and the insight they have given me into some of problems after surgery. I have some relief using a heating pad and spending time in a hot tub. Because of warfarin, tylenol is the only med I take for pain. It helps some. I will continue following these blogs for more insight. Thank you all.


Robin says on October 8th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I am 5 1/2 weeks post-op for a mitral valve repair, with a median sternotomy. Only complication so far is catching a nasty chest cold while at the MD’s office for INR. 3 weeks of severe productive cough, and Bless my Husband, he actually sewed a ribbon “loop” on my sternum pillow, so that I could wear it around my neck, and have it accessible at any time.

I, too, am experiencing a “popping” sensation near my sternal/clavicular notch. Painless, but disconcerting, nonetheless. It usually only happens when I am rolling onto my right side for sleep. I have found that if I hug my sternal pillow tight, as I roll, it eliminates the sensation.

I am glad to read to this sensation is most likely benign and will probably resolve with a few more weeks of healing. My cardiologist was fairly liberal with my activities and allowed driving, returning to work, etc. two weeks post-op. With my increased activity, and frequent, severe coughing, I was a little worried that maybe I had “over-done.” But it sounds like this is just another “mile in long highway of valve repair.”

My Best Wishes to everyone else traveling this road!


Kate says on October 15th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I had my bicuspid aortic valve replaced on 9/13/2011 with a tissue valve (pig). I’m experiencing shoulder pain and discomfort in the sternum area. I have the same problem as Sherry mentioned above, I cannot find a bra that is comfortable and am wondering if anyone has any suggestions. I know it takes time to heal but I am wondering how long I will experience the discomfort in the sternum area. Any input will be appreciated. Surgeon released me to return to work Nov. 7th and other than the discomfort mentioned above, I’m doing well. Thank you.


Ian Cameron says on October 16th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

After mitral valve surgery last June, I had some shoulder pain, which became a frozen shoulder. It took 8 months of physiotherapy to get about 75% of my left arm’s mobility back, and I have some pain in my shoulder or back (around the shoulder blade) nearly every day.
I occasionally have clicking (more like a loud “clunk!”) from my sternum if I inhale deeply or stretch. I also get pain in there and in my left collarbone, often arthritic in feel, and especially if the weather changes.


rosemary sutherland says on October 31st, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I am in very severe pain (8) with shoulder pain radiating through to the back wing. It is as though someone has speared me with a lance.
I had a bicuspid aortic valve replacement 15 days ago. At the moment I feel like I am back to square one and then some. Last night I tied some scarves together and tied then to the wardrobe clothes rail so I could lever myself in and out of bed. I am off to the physio this afternoon in the hope of some relief.


jeff says on October 31st, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hang in there. The worst part of my open heart surgery for valve replacement was the pain that you are describing to a “T”. It was excruciatingand had it not been for this pain my entire surgery would have been a breeze . In my case I was actually broken open twice in the same day because of bleeding. So I remained spread eagle with my , shoulders apart for several hours . This is what the doctor tells me contributed to my pain at least . I believe that the only speedy way to recovering from this is rest . I also benefited im making sure that I have a good pillow and my try to relax your back is best you can and ice in heat neck was not in an awkward position when I sleep . Also I would place 1 pillow under each 1 of my arms/shoulders at night when I sleep so that it lets my chest and back muscles completly relax. Another help that I did faithfully for quite a while was to utilize a heating pad and an ice pack alternating them back and forth 10 or 15 minutes at a time . Also stretch frequently but slowly by acting as though your hugging yourself and hold it for a minute and release and do it again. The bottom line is just hang in there try to relax use ice in heat and after time you will notice it let up .


jeff says on October 31st, 2011 at 8:09 pm

The klunk i have one year later is extremely loud and hard in my collarbone/sternum joint. It klunks doing almost everything. Its crazy feeling. My cardio dr has told me this was common and that i did not need to worry. My ortho dr told me basically the same, , he said most doctors don’t like to do surgery on that joint because it is close to the heart. He said let us see how it goes for a while and if it get to wear it really bothers me and hurts that we would pursue fixing it .


Ian Cameron says on October 31st, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Apart from the shoulder pain thing, I’ve had a pretty good recovery. I may need plastic surgery sometime though, as the lower 4-5cm of the scar formed hypertrophic tissue, which sometimes gets itchy and/or painful around the edges.


rosemary sutherland says on November 1st, 2011 at 11:10 am

It is so great to hear from you all. It has made me feel this pain is “OK”. I went to the physiotherapist and came home in even more pain even though she was very gentle. What she did determine was the pain was to the immediate right of my fourth vertibrae causing the transfered pain. When she pressed I could hear the popping noise you are referring to. Knowing this, I have worked out ways to get in and out of bed with my lower body and arms using the scarves I knotted and attached to the the bedroom wardrobe clothes rail. It even helps to shimmy around to find a comfortable spot in the bed.
Thanks Adam. Thanks everybody – don’t know what I do without you.(-:


rosemary sutherland says on November 1st, 2011 at 11:14 am

In reply to the ladies with the bra issue. I am australian so I am not sure this will help with brand names. However the playtex cross your heart bra has been just wonderful. Its a proper fully supportive bra with no under wire. Its not pretty but its just like a safety bandage at the moment and I love it.


Paul wright says on November 1st, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Hi All

I had a triple bypass on March 22nd 2011 (my birthday) and had all the clicks and pops in the shoulder and ribs. I have been going to action heart (a gym for heart disease sponsored by the national health in the uk) for 4 months.The training is supervised and monitored and im now fitter than ever. All the pops and clicks have gone and i have regained my upper body srength. If you live in the UK and have a Action Heart Care near you get on the program its fantasic.


rosemary sutherland says on November 3rd, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The cardiologist and the hospital insisted I return to casualty (ER) yesterday. Apparently this pain can be a pulomary embolism or a collapsed lung. 9 hours later I got the all clear and I did have quite a few pain free hours thanks to hospital pain killers. In retrospect I shouldn’t have let the ambulance drivers convince me 3 days earlier it was just muscular skeletal issues. – even though they were right and I didn’t want to go back to hospital! It could have been quite serious.


Ian Cameron says on November 3rd, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I was out of (private) hospital only a matter of hours before I had to call the ambulance and was readmitted to the local public hospital. Nothing super serious – just on-going atrial fibrillation, which took nearly a week to get under control using drugs.
Like Paul Wright, my frozen shoulder resulted in me being fitter than ever, thanks to 8 months of physio. I could do without the on-going pain though, but after 16 months or so I’m so used to it that most of the time I can ignore it. I very rarely bother to take any analgesics for it – just stretch, grin (or grimace) and bear it. It’s by far the worst after-effect of the operation, and probably worse because no-one warned me of the possibility of it occurring.


jeff says on November 6th, 2011 at 8:23 am

your making me re-live my open heart surgery from 1 year ago yesterday . That’s not a bad thing I am blessed .I went through the same ordeal 1day after I got home from my initial surgery .The a-fib that I had was extremely intense and really scared me . It took him 32 hours just to get me back into sinus rhythm from a high pace tyrhem that made me feel i was running on the inside, but my outside was not moving. .Thank God for saint lukes hospital and personnel . Once I got home from that ordeal I had 2 more very minor issues with a-fib befoyre it was under control completly. I have managed to get to the point where I am now off of all medications except warfarin blood thinner for my mechanical valve . and of course my high blood pressure medicine losartan. Yesterday on my 1 year anniversaty I was able to drop to the floor and do 92 push ups ! (of course that’s after weeks building up ) I say that only to say that God is good and he’s not through with me yet . And that he has placed very gifted people in each 1 of our lives and we are all very very fortunate .
Jeff black


Vicki Pierson says on November 26th, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I had mitral valve surgery in June. Right away I noticed popping in my sternum/shoulder area when I moved my arms, but couldn’t tell where it was coming from. My surgeon siad the force of retracting the sternum puts a lot of strain on all the surrounding joints, and some movement is not unusual. He advised me to limit arm movement for awhile, and I didn’t notice too much popping until about 6 weeks when I became more active. At that point I had severe pain in my shoulder area; it felt like a rotator cuff injury (I had a torn rotator cuff repaired just last year so I knew what it felt like). My cardiac rehab program suggested that I consult a physical therapist, who determined that I had a sprained clavicle (collarbone)- you can actually see it protruding out of line. If you look at Adam’s diagram above, you can see where the sterum and clavicle meet. The joint needs to rotate about 20 degrees to lift your arm. If the clavicle is displaced, the other end (near the shoulder) is likely out of alignment too, and can mimic the pain of a rotator cuff injury. The therapy is very similar to rotator cuff therapy. After just two or three visits I saw a big improvement, and should get complete relief with about 2 months of therapy. Hope this helps.


Hazel White says on December 5th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I’m one month from surgery and I’ve had sometimes severe pain shoulder pain since the first day. My neck and head also have pain. Hopefully it will ease up as time passes.

I also have fibromyalgia, so that may be a contributing factor. I am a 69-year-old female.


Marilynne Worsoe says on December 7th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

My right side collar bone area has started to ache 5 weeks after aortic valve replacement surgery. When I take a deep breath, I get a sharp pain. What is this caused from and what can I do to alleviate the pain? Thanks.


Chelese says on December 16th, 2011 at 10:55 am

I had cancer in 2009 which required the exact same surgery. The sternal clicking was relentless at first, then subsided. It was painful in the beginning, but it died down. I work a very physical job that has made the shoulder pain kick in where I never had pain before. The doctors found a small fracture in the acromion and I have lost some range of motion. I have been doing physical therapy which reduced the pain somewhat, but has not really increased the motion. Hope you are feeling better.


frank says on December 16th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I received several e-mails after my comments on shoulder pain after aortic valve repacement (St. Jude’s mech valve) and ascending aortic artery repaired. From the beginning of the recovery I had right shoulder pain. It has been almost 2 years since the surgery. I am now having pain in the left shoulder. The right shoulder pain is a dull ache. The left shoulder is more of a sharp pain. The pain is worse in the morning. Sometimes at night, the pain will awaken me. Stretching will sometimes produce relief. The morning pain is so irriating that sometimes just walking and arm movement will cause much discomfort. As the day progress the pain lessens and can be ignored. I will be 72 soon and I have no other pains or problems. I never did have any sternum pain. I am very active and spent much time outdoors. These blogs have given me much insite and comfort. I want to thank you for sharing your successes and problems.


rosemary sutherland says on December 17th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Having intense neck, shoulder, collar bone etc. pain week 3 and 4 after surgery was an indication to the GP, cardiologist and surgeon that I was straight back to hospital via the emergency ward. Don’t second guess pain. Those in the know don’t! When you have the all clear then having physio therapy really helps. I feel (lay person guessing) the neck and shoulder pain is often a sign of “middle earth” not being too happy. I need to have a nap lying down. Jogging,stressing,shopping, eating a full meal, even mild constipation or the need to urinate seem to add to the whole scenario. I figure everything is a little sensitive inside and there is no room inside for anything else in the rib cage so it pushes out transfering pain. But I am just a patient in recovery trying to guess the why?? too. I decided to do diaphragm exercises to improve my vocal chords and that hurt my neck and shoulders just when I thought I was improving.


Julie says on December 21st, 2011 at 12:52 am

Hello – I am almost 6 months post op 2nd OHS, The shoulder pain I am experiencing right now is unbearable. I have been trying the chiropractor and she says it is muscle related. Pain killers take the edge off but that’s it. I am afraid of what I will do when it gets worse which it did after my 1st OHS. Landed me in the ER with high heart rate, shaking uncontrollable from the pain as it did intensify. I get massages and it helps but it comes right back. It is aweful.


rosemary sutherland says on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 am

Hi Julie,
If your physiotherapist doesn’t help then try another one. I can really relate to the pain you are talking about – but not six months later. My physio taped my shoulders across the back. She instructed me to push “the wings” back and then imagine you are dropping them in your back pockets to “switch” off the shoulder muscles. She also instructed me to lie flat on my back arms stretched out to the side and push the shoulders to the floor. Then bend the arms back in at the elbows remembering to keep the shoulders down. Hot packs help too. The hardest thing I find is getting comfortable enough to sleep. It really is a matter of going back to square one. Don’t use your elbows to turn over at night. Cross your arms across your chest sit up and let your hips do rolling work. PS Food shopping with heavy bags seems to hurt too! I hope this is 2nd and last time for you!!


Julie says on December 23rd, 2011 at 10:19 am

thank you Rosemary – I am willing to try anything. I am down to 3 pain pills today with a long holiday week coming, very scared but have an appt on the 30th. Sometimes I don’t quite think people understand just how aweful it is. I hate to sound like a complainer too. I will take you advice & appreciate it so much. best wishes!


rosemary sutherland says on December 23rd, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I understand exactly how painful it is! I am all for the painkillers. Especially as I undermedicated initially. However, what I found was the painkillers enabled me to position my posture incorrectly throughout the day without realizing. Watch your neck. (I know you can’t actually do that!)Make sure it is back in alignment with your spine and draw it up as though you have a coat hanger pulling you up. I found the wheat heat pack wonderful. Even when it cooled down it held my “100lb bowling ball” head in position to sleep better. I do hope you get some relief soon. (-:


Ron says on December 25th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

On November 18th I had a valve replaced, my Bicuspid aortic and an anuerisym repaired. Now a few weeks later I have the Rt shoulder pain and also goes numb as well. I feel it in my back on the rt side as well. Will last for about 5 minutes or so strong and then ease up some. Afraid to take any pain medicine that I was given in case it is something more. I have to take blood thinners “War-fin” as well so I hope its not a blood clot forming either. I don’t have any clicking other then the valve itself. It is so weird to hear that. I also help that the pounding that my heart makes now will in time simmer down. Hard to sleep sometimes.


rosemary sutherland says on December 26th, 2011 at 3:19 am

Don’t second guess this pain. Go to the emergency ward and let them check. Also let your cardiologist know. Take the painkillers if prescribed. This pain can be lots of things so don’t second guess the pain. I was told to call an ambulance when it happened to me. It may be just(still mega pain) muscular/ skeletal pain however the hospital will be able to help to settle that pain too. Best wishes. – It gets better.


Bill Craig says on January 12th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

4 weeks tomorrow i had triple bypass. all is good except for this clicking , bone clacking gnawing thing going on. what i have read so far is some get it , some do not. some have it more severe than others. but most everyone says it goes away. as all of youi know this was a tough experience. i hope you all find yourselves back to par or better very soon. its like humpty dumpty, once you are opened up like this, you cannot stitch back like the good lord made it.


rosemary sutherland says on January 13th, 2012 at 12:29 am

Hang in there Bill. Its early days. They can actually stitch you back better than before. Trust me. Thanks to some wonderful surgeons I have a heart that pumps strong and regularly. At three months I feel as though I have had a face lift on the inside. Do see a physiotherapist though. They are so helpful in realigning the the ribcage and the supporting muscles.Sure I have a scar and the shoulder aches a smidgeon if I carry the grandchildren for too long but otherwise I just say: Thank you God for making the medicos so clever! (-:


Patty says on January 26th, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I had quadruple bypass heart surgery in April of 2011 at Scripps in San Diego. My pain is intense with certain movements of my left shoulder. I know they used a mammory vien during surgery, is or has this caused the pain and will it heal in time? The pain when I move a certain way radiates down my arm is very intense.


John says on February 1st, 2012 at 9:54 am

3 months after mitral replacement I still have a clicking problem in my sternum. Doctor told me it may take another operation to put my sternum back together. Hurts when I cough, sneeze or lay on my side. I think my sternum has separated and hope it will repair itself, but don’t look good.


Bill Craig says on February 1st, 2012 at 11:20 pm

rosemary thanks for the encouragement. at 6 weeks now the soreness is fading, the clicking sternum is less. today was a good day and the day before was not. i walk 3 miles in 1 hour per day and eat properly. my bypass was done by Barry Chan at Presbyterian hospital in Charlotte, NC and part of the cleveland clinic. he is one of the best in the country. there is one better at the university of Maryland, but i did not make the trip as it was just too far. i hope at 3 months i have your attitude. i was lucky in some aspect. my heart was not damaged as i caught it before an attack. 3 arteries 95 and 100 % clogged. i am 55 years old and i find myself also battling some depression as i lived life way too good for 55 years. did you have any bouts with depression? Thanks


John says on February 2nd, 2012 at 7:45 am

After 3months I am still clicking and have pains in my sternum also my chest. My doctor seems to think my sternum has separated and does not seem that concerned as long as I can tolerate it. Will do a cat scan shortly to make sure.


Marilynne Worsoe says on February 2nd, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I had pain all over my body after aortic valve replacement and membrane removal. I just figured it was normal. The surgery was November 4, 2011, it is February 2, 2012 and all of the aches and pains are gone for the most part. I am back to my regular exercise routine. Stamina when walking is still not up to par, but I’m sure, in time it will improve.


Bob says on February 8th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I had an aortic valve replaced and 1 bypass on June 6, 2011. My shoulder has hurt for 8 months now. I am doing exercises with 5 lb. weights and playing golf 3 days a week. I take two advil just before golf, fortunatly, my shoulder works ok for the golf swing, but is frozen for other activities. Can hardly touch the back of my head. I take aspirin just before bedtime, therefore; cannot take much Ibuprophen or Aleve. Hope all will be better when the weather gets warmer. Thanks, Bob


rosemary sutherland says on February 8th, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hi Bob, 8 months is quite some time for that much pain. Whats
‘s with the 5lb weights!! The first instruction the hospital gave us was – if it hurts don’t do it.
Do you have physiotherapy? Honestly it was the best thing for me. Not only did they work the knot out of my shoulder muscle they pin pointed where the tension and aggrevation was coming from. They taped my shoulders blades back in position to make sure I had the correct posture. I was also shown how to switch the shoulder muscle “off”.Stand up straight as though you are being pulled up by a coathanger. Now push the shoulder blade back and down as if you are pushing them into your back pockets. Do this whenever you are lifting, sitting or it starts to hurt. It really does help.PS I still get a little sorenness at 3.5mths. Lying flat on the floor,wings back, is my favourite resting position.


Kat says on March 1st, 2012 at 12:16 am

I had very successful aortic valve replacement in November, 2011. No complications and no pain. Now I am well into my cardiac rehab. I had no shoulder pain until very recently when I started lifting 1 pound weights and doing light yoga. The therapist has shown me some stretching exercising which have helped a little. So we are not sure if the shoulder pain is surgery related or if the yoga and weights have caused the pain.


rosemary sutherland says on March 1st, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Hi Kat, Yes its all part of the surgery. Maybe those particular exercises aren’t helping either. I found as I got better I was using my elbows to lift myself from a lying position and alternately using the elbow to support me when I went to lie down. I went back to crossing my arms across my chest and using my lower body to rotate and lift. It really has taken the stress off the shoulder and helped it heal.


Christine Matthews says on March 6th, 2012 at 12:02 am

I had open heart surgery in Sept 2007. had a cow valve put in an I had an aneurisym. Every since, every since, a week after the surgery, I keep getting right shoulder pain, veryvery painful. I ask heart surgeon an he said it would go away. Ive asked my primary doctor an my heart doctor. One sent me to a neurologist an he found nothing,,wish someone could help….Almost 5 years now an no answer. Pain may come 2 to 4 times a month or skip a month, thank you.


Gary Z says on March 8th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I had mitral valve surgery in Sept of 2011…had intense right shoulder pain (between shoulder blade and spine) that felt like a pinched nerve or muscle. It lasted for several days. My pain meds were more for that then the sternum incision. Like many on this blog, I asked ICU nurses about the pain. They indicated the question was common and most likely due to rib rotation or arm position during surgery. Even my surgeon and assistant were vague on the reasons. I am convinced the thoracic surgeon community has not done a lot of research into this problem. They have an idea what it could be based on anatomical knowledge but the source of pain is elusive.


Sonia says on March 17th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

My husband had a valve replaced on 16/2/12, since then he has suffered excrutiating shoulder pain, so much so that i have seen him in tears. His doctor prescribed dihydrocodiene and when that did not help he was given morphine and paracetamol, over a month later he is no further foward and has been readmitted to hospital where they have run every test available and all have come back as normal. Now his legs and belly have swollen up and he has put on over 1 1/2 stone in weight due to the fluid in his system. He was told that after the operation he would feel a new lease of life but he is not yet experiencing the benefits that the new valve have hopefully brought.
kind regards


Kat says on March 17th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Sonia, I am so sorry your husband is experiencing so much discomfort. I had a lot of fluid retention immediately after my surgery but the doctor told me to double my diuretic and limit my fluid intake. Within a few days i felt much better. My shoulder pain comes and goes. Some days it is so bad I can’t lift my arms at all. Other days there is no pain at all. I hope your husband feels better soon.


ros says on March 17th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Hi Sonia,
Sounds as though your husband is having a miserable time.I am glad he went back to hospital to be checked. I was prescribed fluid tablets during this period of time. If they won’t then cut down his salt intake and no more than 1.5 litres of fluid a day. (My docs instructions to me)
Make sure he doesn’t use his shoulders at all when getting in and out of bed. Cross the arms across the chest and use the lower part of the body to rotate.
Make sure he is opening his bowels regularly too. All these drugs are very binding and with all the inflammation inside there isn’t much room for anything else. So small meals frequently.
Make sure the neck is not taking all the strain of the body too. Posture is important. Finally keep walking gently up and down the corridor – it does help. So too does physiotherapy.(They were so helpful)
I have just been through all this so I know exactly how he is feeling. – It gets better!! (-:


Jeff says on March 17th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I am sorry for your husbands pain. I totally can relate . It has been 14 months since my surgery and I still hav muscle pain under my shoulder blade much of the time. Especialy if I get to active in the way of lifting or exercising. Or even sleeping on my side long causes pain the next a.m. . Of course my sternum and collarbone are disconected ever since the surgery. I have a horrible clunk whenever I cross my left arm across my body or overhead. I have just learned at this point to deal with it. I stretch my upper body alot and it seems to help quite a bit. I would have your husband gently stretch frequently by simulating hugging a barrel as well as putting arms behind the back and clasping hands and gently pulling down and holding it there. Then do the same in front of the body. One other is to face a wall and walk your hands slowly up the wall until they are strtchedcompletly overhead and hold it. Do these in morning and evenings daily and see if things improve. Good luck my friend.


Sue Caldwell says on March 24th, 2012 at 8:16 am

I had open heart surgery in July of 2010. I have clicking in my sternum and it seems to be getting worse. Is there anything
that can be done about or is there any danger associated with it.


jeff says on March 24th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I had mine on november of 2010 and my clicking on the sternum has gotten worse monthly
. I just saw my cartiologist the other day and he said to just leave it alone if it did not cause me discomfort or pain .
my orthopedic surgeon also told me leave it alone unless it causes pain then we will address it . it’s not fit mine causes me much pain as much as just the eerie feeling that it gives me because mine moves alot. I hope soo that yours does not get as bad as mine . good luck . Jeff


Rae says on March 24th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Sonia,

This is the hardest bit for your husband, I promise the pain does subside! I was in exactly the same position! I went back in a week later with severe pain, it didn’t ease with the pain killers. They did checks, it turned out to be muscular skeletal pain. I decided to see how I could help myself! Here’s what worked for me:

1)Small movements (no pressure) to move the arms and shoulders regularly, it prevents stiffness which leads to more pain.

2) Small walks! Keep the blood flowing!

3) Warm showers! I also like cold compresses, it changed!

4) My husband and parents often gave me gentle massages, just be careful not to pull the scar if massaging shoulders!

5) Very small stretches, especially in the morning! Move the chest and shoulders slowly and slightly. No big arm movements!

6) Keep the shoulders warm, especially at night!

I know it’s awful, and it seems like it’s not going, but tell him it really dies! Plus remember, I know you’re seeing no benefits yet – however, internally it’s a massive improvement!

I clicked the first time round (2000). Second time not so! Remember that clicking is the air popping from bones joining! They are weird, but as a two time veteran I can honestly say the have subsided

Sorry for typos, I’m typing on my phone!

If I can help in anyway, please ask!


Troy says on March 28th, 2012 at 9:39 am

My Surgery was February 27, 2012. I had my aorta replaced along with the aortic valve. I’m 44.

When I first read this forum I was in extreme pain and waiting to hear from my surgeon.

My first 2 weeks were fine, 6 days in hospital and the rest at home. I was actually feeling quite strong when I was walking. I was to take 5 min walks several times a day after coming home from the hospital. By the third day I was walking straight for almost 30 min. I couldn’t believe how much energy I was feeling. Stairs no problem too. Then on week 2 I started feeling more pain. Rocking in my lower chest and pain in my shoulders and collar bone. I called the hospital and was told to increase my pain meds.

The next week I was feeling more pain with increased clicking sounds. Clicks when I would move or even turn a page in a book. It was painful. I was running out of pain meds and called the hospital again where they got me in contact with the surgeon. He requested an x-ray and Cat Scan.

After another week the surgeon called me with he results and said that the bone was together and wires were still holding. That the bone was healing and the clicking was a minor setback n my recovery. Suggested that I continue to avoid pushing and pulling and to get more rest. Also to continue with a mix of Tylenol and Advil.

What helps for me it to take Tylenol during the day, and before bed to take the Advil. if I wake up I take another Tylenol.

Pain has been better, and the clicking is nowhere as bad as it was last week.


Marlon says on March 30th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Hi i just had An Aortic valve replacement two weeks ago, A week after I started having this pain that will go from mi back left shoulder to my neck, the pain is very intense and i have to take pain killers twice every night so i can get some sleep, i went online an i notice that this and others simillar problems happens right after this tipe of surgery, i just hope that this pain will go away soon.

Pardon my second lenguage



jeff says on March 30th, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hang in there marlon. Its early. Hot baths and ice , alternating them is helpful as well. Also i found that supporting my shoulders with two pillows in bed helps alot.try to neutralize the area between your shoulder blades. So that your shoulders dont hang because your head is supported yet your shoulders are not. Good luck Marlon.


Mary Nichols says on April 7th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I am a Widow Maker survivor, 6 months out. I am healing howver the pain in my left shoulder is unbarable at times. They harvested an artery from my left arm and I assume they caused nerve damage. Maybe it is something more….im looking into however i wish the pain and discomfort would stop.


ros says on April 11th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Hi Mary, Sorry to here about the pain. It is so common even with people who haven’t had the harvested artery however I do know these things can happen. It was a fear I had after the angiogram through the groin as the nerve runs very close to the artery. Have you spoken to someone? If its not the nerve then physiotherapy can really help. Don’t use your elbows for any weight bearing whatsoever. That means getting in and out of bed and rolling over. Cross the arms across your chest and pivot from the lower body.The physio really showed me how to hold my shoulders back and not use muscles around the neck for support. I can’t give them enough credit for helping me get better. I do hope you can find a solution. I’m pretty sure they can run ultrasound tests for nerve damage.


Alan Minshull says on May 11th, 2012 at 6:25 am

I had a aortic valve replacement in 2008 as well as an aortic dissection repair. I do have regular aches and pains in my neck and shoulder and occasionally in my upper arm. I do have a scoliosis of the spine which does not help, but my main issue is that one of the cartilage connections from rib to sternum has not fused correctly and feels as if it is working loose. This causes a great deal of discomfort especially when, or after,excercising. It would be quite interesting to find out the reasons for these pains.
I have felt since my operation that it would have been a lot simpler if the doctors/surgeons let us, the patient, know about the possible side affects or ailments that could occur during recovery and beyond. I sometimes feel personally that my GP thinks I am a nuisance when I have made appointments to discuss some of the problems I have had, so a bit of help from the start could give the reassurances we sometimes need.


ros says on May 11th, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Its interesting that you say the Drs should warn us. Do the surgeons really know. We see them at 3 mths and then its bye bye and life goes on. Having said that, what can they do? I know they are aware of the problems of peeling the rib cage open and are looking at surgery through the neck and down. Its just that the rib cage is there to protect the heart and at the moment they have no other course of action. Its a tough call and heart valve replacement is a big operation. I realize that doesn’t help when all doesn’t go so well. Its really a numbers game and the odds are very favorable for a very bright future. I hope they can do something for your pain. (-:


Candy says on May 14th, 2012 at 9:16 am

I had surgery on my aortic valve two weeks ago and the pain in my shoulder and right arm is much worse than anything at the incision site. I’m wondering if they positioned me in such a way that caused muscle/nerve damage that might be ongoing.


ros says on May 14th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

It is quite common however this is one you don’t second guess. Call the cardiologist. Now.


Maureen Lamarche says on May 15th, 2012 at 7:54 am

When I read about the various problems following AVR, I count my blessings. As you say when all goes well afterwards, we must be thankful. I had the surgery in Nov. 2010 and have had no bad side effects. This may be partly due to the fact that I meet my doctor (a cardiologist) every month for a quick check and renewal of meds. Every six months she does an xray and echo cardiogram to check that all is working well. I feel so privileged even though I am living in radiation soaked Fukushima, Japan.


frank says on May 15th, 2012 at 10:37 am

I had an aortic valve replacement and an aortic aneurisym repared 4/28/2010. That was also my 70th birthday. I opted for a St. Judes mech valve. The choice was because of family longevity and my other arteries were clear. The clicking sound and sleeping are no longer a problem. I do have shoulder pain ( sometimes both shoulders). My sternum healing was never a problem after about two months. The shoulder pain can be intense especially first thing in the morning. I take warferin daily. That was the down side of the mech valve but I have adapted to the monthly blood tests. I play golf 3 or 4 times a week on a hilly course. I walk 9 holes for the exercise and take a cart for 9 holes. I can still do the necessary work to maintain my property. After two years I feel very lucky to be doing this well. I hope my comments will let those of you going thru a rough time know that things do get better.


Terry Lee says on June 4th, 2012 at 1:16 am

I am a 72 year old male. I had quadruple bypass surgery in November, 2012 and I am having the clicking sound in my sternum every time I take a deep breath. I am so glad I found your website because I was beginning to worry that this was not normal. Does it ever quit “clicking”?


John says on June 4th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I had a mitral valve replaced Jan. 2012 and due to complications they had to remove my sternum, so the clicking in my chest and pain in my right shoulder is pretty bad. It is something I will have to live with I’m told. I’m 74 so that will not be long. John


Steve says on June 4th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced with a mechanical valve, including a Dacron replacement of my ascending aorta, on Mar 26th, 2012 at the Mount Hospital in Perth, Australia. I can report no sternum clicking, but in the last three weeks have experienced significant pain on occasions in my shoulders and the back of my arms. The pain is dull, but intense and can last anything from 2 minutes to 15 minutes. It is now 10 weeks since my surgery and the episodes of pain are becoming more frequent. Initially the episodes were up to 5 days apart but have lately increased in frequency to every second day. I have mentioned to my GP and Surgeon and neither had a clear explanation. Reading fellow patients’ posts here has helped me understand what maybe the cause. Thanks Steve.


ros says on June 5th, 2012 at 2:13 am

Hi Steve,
I feel as though I have said this so many times on this site. See a physiotherapist. They will expain it all to you. Go back to crossing your arms across your chest before lying down or getting out of bed; or rolling over. Do not use your elbows to support yourself when you go to lie down. Push your shoulder blades back and then lower them as if you would be dropping them into your back pockets. Then allow the physio to massage all the bones and muscles back to their former selves. – It does get better. (-:


Morgan says on June 5th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Steve – I had the same surgery a little over a year ago and also experienced the kind of shoulder pain you are describing. The good news is that it stopped occurring within a few months. I tried everything to alleviate the pain and found that the only thing that worked was a heating pad and Tylenol. If I recall correctly the last episode of this that I had was about 5 months post-op so if you follow suit you are almost out of the woods. Good luck!


frank says on June 5th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Hi Steve
I had the same surgery as you. My surgery was Apr 28,2010. I had the procedure done in Pittsburgh, Pa. That was also my 70th birthday. I still have pain in my right shoulder. I sometimes also have some pain in my left shoulder. The pain is worse first thing in the morning. The pain has not stopped me from doing many of the things I did before the surgery (play golf, cut wood, split logs, etc.). The heat and Tylenol helps. The Drs. have not given me any reasons for the pain. They suggest different tests. I feel good otherwise and am not inclined to go for more testing. Reading these blogs has helped by giving me some insight as to what others are also experiencing. My problems may just a matter of my age and/or my meds. I hope you have better luck.


Micki says on July 8th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi-I had my aortic valve replaced on March 8th, 2012. Three days later I went into complete heart block and had to have a pacemaker incerted which is now doing all the work for the lower part of my heart. I too had the intense shoulder pain after surgery for the first couple of weeks but it gradually went away. However, 4 months out I have recently been experiencing the clicking in my sternum. I was running the sweeper and bending over when it occurred. It certainly startled me as it continued for quite a while. It has been several days since and it is still clicking on me. Should I be concerned or is this just all of the healing process! From what I’ve been reading, it appears this is a normal process. I just couldn’t tell if it was my pacemaker clicking or my sternum. Very frustrating at times this healing process. Thanks Micki


ros says on July 8th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hi Micki – sounds as though you have had a rough trott. I found my cardiologist was wonderful when it came to little worrying concerns. Give him/her a phone call and just make sure. If you are anything like me, at this point, then you may have an aversion to going to the doc – because they might find something is wrong and enough is enough!! However, they really do know their job so well and its better and reassurring to check.


Bob Amodio says on July 9th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Hi Adam,

I am going into my 4th week post AVR surgery having received a bovine heart valve. I too experience shoulder and upper back pain from the surgery. Additionally, my first week post surgery, I was coughing up white phlegm. It then subsided. But now I am coughing up clear phlegm regularly again. Is this normal? I use my sperometor regularly and I was told my lungs sounded very clear the first few weeks out. I walk regularly. It has been extremely hot and humid for the past few weeks and I am wondering if that is contributing to these productive coughing episodes. I will be seeing my cardiologist for a post op exam in a week. I already saw my surgeon two weeks post op, but the coughing wasn’t as predominant as it is now.


Gary Z says on July 11th, 2012 at 8:19 am

Adam, I had successful mitral valve repair done in Sept of 2011. Everything went perfectly. I have also been monitoring your blog since then because I also experienced shoulder and upper back pain immediately after surgery. It was severe but went away after a couple of weeks. Being an inventor (very curious person), I have studied this phenomenon and invented a unique surgical pad that I have just patented. I am confident that it will significantly reduce the incidence of severe back pain, especially between the spine and shoulder blades immediately after sternotomy. ICU staff should not have to deal with this pain when there is so much more of importance to deal with. Because I am not a doctor (only a physicist), I have no credibility. I need your help to identify a doctor who will listen and possibly run a trial. It is a class 1 device that does not need FDA approval. I have written a protocol and I will supply samples. Thanks so much.


georgie henry says on July 11th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced 4 yrs ago along with a pacemaker and tightening up of 2 other valves; I never experienced anything like what is described here. Maybe the surgery affects men differently? Did you go to rehab afterwards? I had 3 months of it at the hospital. However, I did have other problems, like fluid on my lungs, twice, second time another 5 days in the hospital. My recuperation time was much worse than the surgery. However, my aortic valve is calcifying and will need another replacement plus the mitral valve as well’ am not looking forward to the second time around. I’m waiting for a report from CC as to what my options are and will go from there.


ros says on July 11th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Any device that could alleviate that pain would be wonderful. There was a product on the web that used both hands to pull forward as the person stands. I think it would have been very helpful. Create a website and find someone to produce your product – there are lots of us out there. (o: Good Luck
- Also my difficulty was that these products are American so making OS purchases is not that easy for Australian like myself. So make it an international website like this one of Adam’s and that would be even better.


Bob Barnett says on July 19th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Yes, I had a loud POP at the dinner table one evening about 5 months after the sergery. Everyone at the dinner table heard it loudly. I had just finished wattering some hanging plants at arms lenght with a 2 1/2 gal jug. My guess is that lossened up a stress point. Have not had any more poping sence.


gkhenry says on July 20th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I had an aortic valve replacement 4 yrs ago – never had anything as described by r. barnett, it evidently happens to men more than women from what I have read on previous discussions on this subject, they also seem to have more pain after surgery, another problem I never had. at least that I remember.


Katlyn says on August 2nd, 2012 at 1:28 am

I had my heart surgery in december of 2011. So aboutseven eight months. And ever since my shoulders been hurting and uncomfortable. I was sent for an xray but dont know what the issue is yet.i have limited movement as well.


John says on August 2nd, 2012 at 6:04 am

I had my sternum removed about the same time as you Katlyn and I still have clicking and pain in my shoulder and back, although it is getting better as time goes by. My doctor told me that is normal. Drugs handle the pain pretty well.


Katlyn says on August 2nd, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I went to see my primary doctor today and my xray showed nothing wrong so they juat gave me a referal for physical therapy. Probably just due to how they have your body during surgery and since ita a lengthly procedure. I had two surfires in one yr so thats what im thinking.


diane says on August 4th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

i have problems with my left shoulder also my trap muscle and the back of my head , i find it gets sore when i do any type of exercise, even fast walking, i had my aortic valve replaced (bicuspid and asending aortia had a graft, i went to see my chiropractor, he sent me to physical therapy, i have strength exercises to do at home , i do go to cardiac rehab but i had my surgery april of this year, and have only just started rehab,as i had a few problems, physical therapy worked out some of the knotts, (sore) said with this injury(from the surgery) you have to work it out, and keep using your arm…. Diane


ros says on August 4th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Hi Katlyn, I had my op in oct 2011. In the first initial weeks when i visited the physiotherapist frequently I was given many tips to help relieve the muscle and joint pain. One thing they did comment on was, “if you could see how you were opened up you’d know why all the bones and muscles have so much repair work to do!” My job requires I carry a lot of things to and fro. My back around the lungs aches by days end so I really think about how I lift things. When I lie on the floor in the evening to flatten everything out its wonderful. However to get myself off the floor if I don’t cross my arms across my chest before raising my torso the sterum will ache. It gets better each month but I am just reminded that there is still a lot of healing going on.


ROBERT says on August 10th, 2012 at 1:58 pm



peggy eason says on August 17th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I had triple bypass two years ago and ever since I have had pain in both my shoulders and arms. The right one seems worst. I was told it may be frozen shoulder but it wasn’t common to happen in both arms at the same time. I have noticed my collar bone on the right side sticks out where it didn’t before surgery. Sometimes if I stretch my arm out to reach for something a sharp pain runs all the way down my arm and it hurts to the point I feel sick but it does not last long.


ros says on August 18th, 2012 at 12:29 am

Hi Peggy, I seem to say this over and over but physiotherapists are marvellous at getting the bones and muscles back in place.


Torkin Wakefield says on August 30th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

My 27 year old son had aortic valve replacement three weeks ago. During the second and third weeks he experienced prolonged pain in his shoulders and down his upper arms. The surgeon said that happens because when the sternum is cracked open the ribs sometimes compress nerves that go to the shoulders and arms. He said this is often a normal experience and will pass. Now in the beginning of the fourth week post surgery the shoulder and arm pain is all gone.


Dave Fuduric says on August 30th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Dear Adam – My surgery was in February of 2010. I had mitral valve repair through a partial sternotomy at the Cleveland Clinic. I don’t recall any “clicking” however I did sense there was some movement there even after about 6 months. I had this checked on a follow up visit and they assured me everything was healing as normal. Also, I had acute pain at the back of my shoulder but this stopped a few days after surgery. I do have a “clicking” left shoulder when I do certain movements but I don’t think it is related to the surgery because I’m pretty sure that happened occasionally before I had the surgery.

My sternum seemed to take a long time to heal. Only this year am I able to do regular push-ups with no discomfort around my sternum. One of the thoracic surgeons at The Clinic likened open heart surgery to getting hit by a truck. I can’t dispute that.

Keep On Tickin’,

– Dave Fuduric


Kathy says on September 1st, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I had three open heart surgeries from May 2011 thru February 2012 and after the 2nd surgery in July 2011, I felt clicking in my sternum and really bad clicking and pain but in my shoulder blade area. It has gotten better but it still is painful and still cracks.


bob mugge says on November 1st, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I am 4 weeks post CABG/4. No clicking in my sternum until today. I was simply walking and the sternum started clicking. No pain. Just freaked me out. First time this happened. AS far as pain goes? Neck, SHOULDER, RIBS and back have been killing me. I had less pain after 2 weeks than at 4. I can not sleep in bed with out being miserable in the morning. I thought I was passing a kidney stone. I am back on Lortab today to see if I sleep. Funny that this is a COMMON thing but they don’t tell you a thing about it in the “what to expect post cabg recovery” information. first thing they should do is NEVER put you in a hospital bed in the ICU or your room post op. You need a BIG power recliner so you can get in and out of bed.


sooraj says on November 23rd, 2012 at 2:42 pm

im having chest pain from 7 years, started palpitation from 1.5 year went to my gp took ecg after watching ecg he said there is nothing to worry. but i did ecg by a difibrillator, there is extrasystole in it not frequent but after 18 , 45 .28 beats there is extra systole in it my g p he said nothing to worry its all ok.. im 28 year old im having chest pain under 3rd rib of left side.. can u answer me wat it is.


Maureen Lamarche says on November 24th, 2012 at 6:35 am

I am just two years past AVR surgery and feeling great. However this question aroused my interest as I have been experiencing pain in my right shoulder recently. I notice it especially in bed if I am lying on that side. I can feel pain when I touch it. I was not thinking it was connected with my surgery until I read this column. So next week when I have my monthly check up, I will ask my doctor about it. Thanks for the heads up.
I have not experienced any clicking.


biki says on December 18th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I am 57 female, had my open heart surgery this october (2012). I am quite short and I am told they had to open it all really wide so it was like I was ‘attacked’ using the terminology of the second surgeon. I had a myectomy and valves. My sternum clicks, pops snaps and seems to almost jump around and hurts a lot, all this especially between the breasts. Is this normal, my surgeon seems unconcerned. also my scar at that point is wide, rubbery, extra red and hideous. Can I do anything about the clicking and snapping. Does it mean I do too much? I am very careful mostly to not use my arms excessively.


biki says on December 18th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I want to add to the post I just sent that I cannot sit forward without excessive pain in the sternum. Is that normal? (I am the myectomy).


Candy Summers says on December 20th, 2012 at 7:20 am

I had aortic valve replacement in May 2012. In answer to your question concerning shoulder pain, the answer is yes. I actually had more pain in my right shoulder and arm than in the area of the incision. It gradually went away within maybe six week but none of the drugs I was sent home with seemed to help.


Kerry Davis says on January 6th, 2013 at 12:08 am

I too have had the aortic aneurysm repair along with the root replacement and valve replacement. The shoulder pain drives me crazy at night time. I do have the clicking in my shoulder but also had shoulder surgery several years ago. But as far as the sternum popping, it is driving me crazy! I had a cold and subsequent bronchitis and thought the pain was worse than my first few days after surgery and I am 8 weeks out from my surgery. I am actually getting ahold of my surgeon next week to discuss this with him because I go back to work in 2 weeks to a medium duty job. At times when I cough, after a second or two, my sternum will pop back into place. It is a crazy feeling. My BP has also been acting crazy at times so I am becoming frustrated.


ros says on January 6th, 2013 at 2:40 am

Hi Kerry,
Its so important for the surgeon to check its not something more serious. If its nothing more than the the long slow recovery then I can seriously recommend going to a physiotherapist. The massages really helped. Then I went back to square one. Do not use your elbows to get yourself in or out of bed. Cross your arms across your chest, swing your lower body onto or off the bed and then lower or raise yourself from the bed. Even now, one year on, I cross my arms to raise myself off the floor. The next tip the physio gave me was to watch my posture. Its really easy to have a bad posture when medicated on pain killers as its not noticeable until they wear off. Pull your “wings” back and then lower them as if you are trying to drop them into your back trouser pockets. The physio actually taped my back. – and extend your leave – you are not better yet. …. but you will be soon (0:


Connie says on January 25th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I am 15 weeks post op for Mitral Valve repair. My initial soreness is generally over although I will still have stiffness in the mornings and still have some back pain. My problrm is for 3 days I have had intermitten stabbing or burning sensation from midsternum and right chest which radiates down my arm. Makes me afraid one for the wire is hitting something suddenly after all this time.


Marsha says on February 1st, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I had replacement of the descending aorta at age 49 (4 years ago now). There are times when I just feel sick from the pain in my shoulder and in the chest area of the left front. My Dr. assures me it is inflammation but it can be scary at times. My GP had given me Mobic to take but my heart Dr. was really leery of my taking it. Said to be extremely careful with it and to take it ONLY when a mild over the counter med would not help. And yes, I also have the “clicking” in my sternum area; sometimes the area near my incision actually looks like one side has raised up like a fault line after an earthquake! haha. If I rub it off and on during the day, it will finally go back in “place”.

I also have 2 herniated discs in my neck but my Heart Dr. says NO to surgery. I get a tingling and numbness as well as pain in my left arm and my jaw as well as a feeling of a “clamp” around my left are near my bicept. It is scary and I try not to panic.. thinking HEART ATTACK. However, my surgeon assures I have no heart disease and the aorta is perfect.. it is the nerve/discs giving the problems. Sometimes its really hard to tell.

There are so many things about this surgery (and what happens after) that no one tells you. I never know if certain aches and pains and weird feeling are normal.. (Like, I still cannot lay on my left side, it makes my heart skip beats or race.) I thank you for this site as I can come to it when I need answers.


Marsha says on February 1st, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Also, is there anyone else out there who is left handed and has had difficulty with gripping with the left hand after the surgery? I have never reagained strength after my aorta replacement. I also have had a feeling of a “line” down my face from about the center of my left eye to just below my left cheek. When I told the surgeon about this after my surgery, they acted like I was nuts. I also began having terrible numbness in my left shoulder blade and neck, down to the edge of my shoulder. I didn’t have that problem before the surgery. Had MRIs done and it showed 2 herniated discs. I thought maybe that happened when they opened me up like a chicken.. haha. Im not griping by any means and don’t want to sound accusatory. I am grateful to be alive and feel Blessed to have had a great surgeon. Two years after my surgery, I had to have cataract surgery on that left eye. I am sure that was not caused by the surgery but I wonder if some of the meds may have accelerated the condition. Anyway, thanks for listening.


ros says on February 2nd, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Hi Marsha,
Time for a second opinion.
Also, if the heart and attachments are fine then may I suggest physiotherapy. They are great at sorting out pinched nerves, muscles and bones that didn’t quite go back the way they were. …. Really! (0:


joe bauer says on February 6th, 2013 at 8:45 am

I had tripple bypass surgery 10 months ago and I have a lot of clicking in my chest. I also have a rubbing feeling in my ribcage like my insides are moving around when i bend over or in bed when i roll over, when moving arms to wipe something up. I had a catscan and my surgeon said everything is in place and to wait another 6 months if it still bothers me then come back.


Debbie says on February 20th, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hello, . I did have some clicking while I was in the hospital. No shoulder clicking, that I know of. It always felt like the chest. And that was when I rolled over to my side. Then I tried to stay on my back. But now, one year later, I am having pain ;in my shoulder, shoulder blade area, not the blade it self, and I also notice the top of the sternum is not semetrical. Right under your neck, you feel two sides of your sternum. One pokes out more than the other one. I have pain, slowly coming on too. That’s why I looked up something about this issue and here you are =)


Renee says on March 11th, 2013 at 5:33 am

I had aortic valve replacement July 27, 2011 when I was 31 years old. Afterwards, I did experience intense shoulder pain. Twice my husband called an ambulance as we thought it could be a heart attack. I rated the pain 8/10. Several days in the hospital followed both trips to the ER to monitor for increased pain, heart changes. After these two episodes, which fell in the first 90 days post-op, I still experience shoulder pain at least once per month. I am working on total body restoration & have completed a 5k, and this year I have been approved for a 10k. Click-click!!


Kellie R says on March 12th, 2013 at 8:56 am

It has now been 9 months since my Open Heart Surgery and valve replacment. I have been in the last two months experiencing major pain in my upper right arm, right arm pit and left arm pit. Many times at night get the pain also in my right shoulder blade area. My slepp latley has been very little do to this pain waking me up at night. Many nights now only getting about 4 hours of sleep.

At times the pain in my arm shoots all the way down my arm into my fingers tingles and takes my breathe away. There are times thoughout my days, I wish I had a sling to lust allow my arm to rest. I feel like my limb is lifeless.

I am also noticing this pain now traveling to my left arm pit and lower arm at times. and if that is not enough, now in my left leg behind the knee area.

I have noticed great depression, lack of enthusiasum, dizziness and uncontrollable crying at times. I have finally been able to get an apointment with the DR. which is actually this very morning that I am writing this. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.

Many times I have shortness of breathe and feel like many days I am just in a fog.

1 was doing rehab after my six week recovery period for 8 weeks and walk now, but with the pain I experience, I am afraid to do anymore. I just want my life back, not to mention some sleep too!


Laura says on March 16th, 2013 at 10:28 am

I read the comments on shoulder pain following heart surgery. Four months ago I had a minimally invasive mitral valve repair (right mini-thoracotomy) that has left me with recurring chest and left shoulder/arm pain. This pain occurs when I use the muscles in these areas more intensely than usual. I did not suffer this type of muscle pain prior to surgery, so have concluded that this is a result of the surgery or of the recovery process. I first suffered the pain about 1 month after surgery and ended up in the emergency room with the concern that I was having a heart attack. No heart attack and no issues with my heart — just the first intense episode of the muscle pain. I have learned to roll with the punches on this by taking Aleve and using heating pad. I am hoping that this will resolve itself over the next year.

I also have had silent migraines since the surgery. I suffered migraines prior to the surgery, but had very few in the last several years. Since the surgery, I have several silent migraines a week. These are characterized by an aura, but no other symptoms. I can readily control these symptoms, and have been checked out to make sure that I am not at risk of stroke. I am very healthy, no obvious stroke risks, and no other reasons for concern about the silent migraines.

Prior to my surgery and recovery, I would have appreciated a more detailed sharing of information about these potential recovery issues — would have provided me with peace of mind.

Thank you for taking the time to collect experiences from cardiac patients — it is very helpful to learn about the experiences of others.


Donna says on March 24th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

On February 4th, 2013 I had minimally invasive surgery for a mitral valve repair. I have progressed really well but not without experiencing the customary numbness and extreme sensitivity in my right breast and under my right arm (I know it sounds strange…being numb and having sensitivity at the same time but that’s the only way I can describe it). Last week I began having am lot of pain in my right shoulder. At first I thought maybe I had slept on it in an weird position, as sleeping on my right side can still be somewhat challenging at times. The pain has not subsided at all and I can’t help but wonder if maybe it’s because of the position my right arm was in during the 5+ hours of surgery. Because all of my incisions are on my right side does anyone know if they place your arm up over your head or off to the side during surgery? I am not sure that the two are even related. I tried looking this up on the Internet but didn’t find anything. In the meantime my heating pad seems to be the only thing that gives me a little relief. My sincere thanks for any comments or suggestions.


michael marlow says on March 25th, 2013 at 2:14 am

I had quadruple bypass a year and a half ago. Clicking is getting really bad and it’s getting hard to sleep. I have to be laying just right for it to go away. Going to see about getting it fixed very soon.


Annette says on April 10th, 2013 at 6:50 am

I had a valve replacement in January 2010 following rapid calcification and heart failure, heart attack and stroke.I was in hospital for 3 months but when I got out I had extreme pain in my right shoulder. It was agonising. Up until I read these posts I had blamed the stroke but now think it was the heart surgery. No one was able to say why but eventually a physio was able to suggest a way of standing that helped and the pain went fairly quickly after that.


Joe Bauer says on April 10th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hi!. I had a tripple bypass a year ago and have bad clicking in my chest. No pain at all but it is very annoying, and only started about 4 months after surgery. the feeling is like everything is moving arround in my chest when i bend over or move my arms (like wiping a counter or washing my car.) things like that. Doctors cant see anything wrong after i had a catscan. So I am now seeing a physical theropist to work on muscles in chest n hope that helps.


Ros says on April 12th, 2013 at 10:12 pm

It took me a full 12 months before the rib cage “healed”. It was knitted nicely at 12 weeks but for a very long time I would have to cross my arms in front of my chest before rising from a lying position. Even now, 18 months on, if I’ve been pruning in the garden the join will ache.
The bones really are the last to repair themselves. I was convinced my ribcage had become two continents moving independently left and right side. I can still press my thumbs into the gap(or dip) along my centre line. I feel as though its like the San Andrea’s fault line!
However – health wise – thank you surgeons – I’m alive and well!


Elly Martin says on April 19th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I had Bypass Surgery on Feb 27, 2013

My chest still hurts unbelievable and when i try to use my arms at all i have muscle pain all across my chest. Am 60 years old and in fairly good health otherwise. How long will this pain last some nites i just go to bed crying.


Ros says on April 20th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hi Elly,
Its still early days yet. Hang in there it will get better. I am a firm believer of seeing a physiotherapist. They know how to untangle the muscles and bones and show you how to move and stand.

From my experience I had to go back to step one. DO NOT use your elbows to rotate or lift yourself out of bed.
Sit on the edge of the bed, cross your arms across your chest. Rotate your legs onto the bed and fall back onto the bed. (Pillows may help here.)
To roll over – cross your arms across your chest and use your legs to rotate and move the entire rib cage as one movement. Don’t leave an arm behind!
To get out of bed – Cross your arms across your chest, shimmy the legs over the side of the bed and then lift with the body NOT the arms or elbows.It helps if the bed is high and you can drop to the floor rather than having to raise yourself.
Do take pain killers, do see a doctor.
PS Been there – done that…. it will get better slowly and it really is worth having the operation. Shame they have to open the rib cage to get to the heart.


Marsha says on April 21st, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Great advice on getting into and out of bed!


Wanda Headrick says on June 9th, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Thank you for the information on shoulder pain following valve replacement, as I too have been experiecing severe left shoulder and chest pain since my surgery. My story: September 18, 2012 on a routine physicial, my PCP(who I have gone to for around 10 years) commented “did you know you had a heart murmur. My answer was “yes” my mother told me I was born with one. (the only other doctor who had commented on the murmur was during one of four pregnancies over 30 years ago). Next my PCP asked if I had ever had a 2-D Echo. My answer was “no”, but I would sure like a baseline one! (I am a neruo Critical Care Nurse and well understand the value of baseline scans and tests). I was scheduled for a 2D-Echo the next day. At 8am the day after the 2D-Echo, I recieved a rather urgent call from my PCP — “are you sure you do not feel short of breathe? I assured my PCP I felt fine — in fact GREAT – and that I routinely walked up 3-4 flights of stairs daily at work — and so an appointment was scheduled with a cardiologists. The Cardiologists explained I had a congenital aortic valve with a 5mm arotic aneurysm. This resulted in a Heart Cath on November 19th (my husband was in Australia and we wanted to wait until he returned). The results of the heart cath were that I had 30 days to have a valve replacement and aneurysm repair completed. The pressure gradiant through the aortic valve was at 90mmHg. Surgery occurred on Dec 10th when I recieved a Bovine Aortic Valve and a 5 inch Ascending Aortic Graft. The 5 hour Surgery went splendid. I was out of bed, standing, and took 3 steps the night of surgery. I spent the next day in the CTICU and was moved to the cardiac floor the next morning. That night I had a terrible case of anxiety of which I used my own aromatherapy remedy for — and from then on used aromatherapy for both anxiety and scar releif. I was already only taking Ibuprofen for pain. I was not even given a prescription for pain pills when I was dismissed 6 days later on Saturday Dec 16, 2012. On Dec 26, 2012 my husband and went back to town (we live approx 60 mile out of town) for the first time after my surgery — with me in the back seat per the Surgeons request to avoid air bags. On the way home we were involved in a freak accident where our car rolled over 2 times. We both came out unscratched!!! We did go to the emergency room and get checked out (me by ambulance). The only other complications were chronic diarrha from the metoporol I was on for a temporary time. 3 days after it was stopped I was a new person. On February 25th I returned to work full time – 3 days per week on 12 hour shifts – in the Neruo Critical Care Unit as a Registered Nurse. I have been on a 20 lb lifting restriction and my boss is riding me about that, but everytime I do much lifting, I have terrible left shoulder pain. My left shoulder also clicks constantly. As we are tipically short of help and most of our patients have one side which does not work from a stroke, it is hard not to lift more than I should. This past week after my shifts were over, I was unable to even lift my left arm up, my hand swelled and the pain was nearly unbearable. I had 2 massage therapy treatments which helped and used some anti- inflammatory essential oils in a rub. Several places in my spine and shoulder moved and I am now feeling better. I would love you imput, thoughts, or suggestions. I don’t know if I sould continue work, take long term disability (for which I have paid for for years) or what, I am 4 years from retirement and feel I am in a delima not knowing where or what to plan for. I have lots of energy and feel great other than the left shoulder pain — which is about to get me down. I look forward to your imput. Thank you


Donna says on June 10th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I originally posted on March 24th, 2013 about experiencing severe pain in my right shoulder after have minimally invasive mitral valve surgery. I ended up going to an orthopedic doctor that confirmed I had developed ” frozen shoulder”. He shared with me that this is a common occurrence in heart patients, particularly those that have the minimally invasive surgery. As I am left handed I wasn’t forced to move my right arm very much during my recovery. The immobility caused severe inflammation in my shoulder joint. I had worked so hard to recover from the surgery and then this! He gave me a shot of cortisone and signed me up for physical therapy twice a week. This Thursday will be my last physical therapy appointment. I still have a little bit of pain and the mobility is not back 100% yet but I am getting there. It’s just a slow process. I still have numbness in my right breast and under my arm that is gradually going away but other than that I am progressing really well from my surgery. I hope this post will help anyone that may be in a similar situation.


Gary says on June 21st, 2013 at 9:04 am

I had sinus valsalva anuerism surgery in April 2013. This is an open heart procedure and post surgery almost 2 months later I am experiencing pain in both shoulders and up both sides of my neck. I also had bipass surgery in 2000 and experienced this same post surgery pain.


Ed Grace says on August 21st, 2013 at 8:46 am

On August 8, 2013 I had a triple bypass.. Sternum has some popping and cracking in certain positions. My left shoulder hurts at night. . Is this normal and when should it go away.. I have a follow up with surgeon Aug 28, 2013 Thanks


Robin says on August 21st, 2013 at 11:45 am

I had a mitral valve repair via medial sternotomy in 8/2011, at age 57. I did experience sternal “clicking” for about 3 months post-op, but no pain associated with the clicking. It was more just “alarming” when it happened. And it usually happened when I was repositioning in bed.

Thank goodness I never experienced any shoulder pain or clicking. There was enough to deal with, without those two issues!

I consider myself fully healed, without any residual issues. My cardiologist states that my mitral regurg is “zero to trace.” All of my pre-op symptoms have resolved. (Shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, lower extremity edema)


Ros says on August 21st, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Yes Marilyn, Welcome to week 3. I think there should an inclusion into the booklet of what happens next in regards to the shoulder pain in week3. However, I think they don’t because it can be very serious and its not for us to second guess. Your surgeon needs to know and you need to be reassured that its all part of the long slow process.
Make sure you are not using your elbows at all to get in and out of bed. Cross the arms across the chest and rotate. Find a good physiotherapist to massage the shoulders. Do take the pain killers but be aware that they do allow for bad posture so when they wear off ….ouch!


Jim McLeod says on September 9th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Good Day Everyone, I had triple bypass May 28, 2013 and everything worked out well…did have a couple of times where i felt like going to emergency room with just not feeling right, but everytime just waited and i did feel better. All testing after surgery -stress, echo cardiogram, and holter monitor showed normal results, taking a low dose of lopressor metololpol 1/4 of 25mg and a aspirin per day. Have been back to work full force which work is contracting/construction which is phyical labor. My problem now is pain that has seemed to have started in the left side of my neck and now in my left shoulder and also i have had pressure and ringing in both my ears since surgery, my doctor states he does not think these problems have anything to do with the heart surgery. Just over 3 months out from surgery there is still some numbness at incision area which i would assume normal, Two mammary arteries and one leg vien was used for my triple, does anyone know by rerouting chest mammary arteries create or cause problems like shoulder/neck pain? Best Regards, Jim


Yvonne says on September 11th, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I am five weeks out from open-heart (bypass) surgery. No clicking but lots of shoulder pain! Especially right side.


pete says on October 12th, 2013 at 10:41 am

I have snapping in my sternum.
Just started 12 years after CABG.
Stops if I change position.


Paul Wright says on October 12th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi Adam

I had a triple bypass in March 2011. Initially I suffered the clicking in the should and the sternum . This has now cleared but I do suffer pain in both shoulders (which started about a year ago)and have to have physio which helps. I go to a cardio rehab gym each week to build muscle but the aches still remain. The pain level varies day to day from 1 (ache) to 7 (pain) when moving my arms.


e upshaw says on October 25th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Yes, I had clicking in my chest during the first month of my recovery. My greatest pain has come from my left shoulder…I had no shoulder pain until 6 weeks after my surgery…very annoying…pain pills really don’t work..I’m honestly very miserable…I’ve had 2 check ups concerning my shoulder pain…they had solutions..smh….I’m 35 years old, I’m use to bwing active, I understand the healing process..bur there seems to be no solid solutions for shoulder pain after surgery. ..please help!!!


bob says on October 27th, 2013 at 8:52 pm

My shoulders killed me for almost 9 months. Clavicle collar bone what ever you want to call it. Finally just went away on it’s own but it hurt like hell. No doctors even address this. There are many many things they can do to make this better post operative. Including never putting you in a bed after you get out of the operating room. A recliner is far easier on you. They damn near killed me moving me around in the bed. After I got in a chair, I never got back in the bed again. I refused to get back in the bed.


Lu Anne says on December 13th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I had surgery in May 2008. My aortic valve was replaced with a St. Jude Mechanical valve and an aortic aneurysm was also repaired. I did have some clicking pain; however they thing that hurt me the most was my shoulder. In fact, the pain meds I took were not from the chest incision pain but the shoulder. Now I still experience the shoulder pain, everyday. I have ultra sounds seen a neurologist and still the pain is there. The thing that has helped me the most is my massage therapist. She makes it more easy to manage. I have often wondered why and if was related to surgery but none of my doctors will even discuss that possibility.


Patti says on January 6th, 2014 at 11:55 am

I’m having the worse shoulder pain (left) of my life. Started last night; 4 weeks after OVR; and still miserable this morning. Came here to check on it, believing it probably was a normal occurrence. Had to take pain pill and am still hurting.


steve packard says on January 23rd, 2014 at 1:42 pm

my turn to share, I just had my aortic valve replaced 1/8/2014 I felt that I had the best care at scripps la jolla ca. After three weeks, yes I have shoulder pain across my back and it is more pain than my incision and sternum mending back together .I fell like I was streched out and my shoulders were rolled back and when they cut my sternum in half I thought that my heart popped out they changed the valve in mid air and put it back in and I was done. I am three weeks out and still have back shoulder pain. although I had the best care at scripps la jolla and the follow up care is going well . My heart dose not hurt anymore and my breathing is going well my sternum fells like it is a bruise healing and yes I get just a little clicking if I move in the wrong direction although every week it gets less and less. I go for walks 10 to 15 min or intill my body says lets take a brake and rest you do not want to over do it in the first few weeks, I am in my third week out and I am felling better each day and getting stronger.I guess the back pain will get better in time as I heal I put on Icy Hot pain relief cream and It really helps with the pain. other than the pain I am glad to be here with a new out look on life. I get to spend more time with my grand children and not walk around with a sore heart or not be here at all. Thanks scripps hosp, for giving me a extended life remember your next breath is our feuture. Steve


judy says on February 12th, 2014 at 2:33 am

I love this website & blog it’s so informative. I was worried about a pain in my shoulder, I had a smilar pain after my aortic valve replacement which came back a few days ago 8 weeks later as it sems from others this is quite normal I’ll stop worrying & keep doing what I am doing


Rosemary Sutherland says on February 17th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Hi Judy,
I just read your comment. Frequent, yes, Probably ok, yes. Ignore it , NO. When I phoned the GP they took it very seriously, when I was sent back to the surgeon he and all the medical staff took it very seriously.
We are the patients on this blog – let the professionals tell you its OK.
PS Its two years on for me and I couldn’t be happier. :)


michael says on February 24th, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I am 51 and just about 7 weeks after a bypass surgery I had a birth defect that was seriouse God was apparently with me for 51 years !! Thaanks God.. I am now having terrible discomfort lying on my sides.y arms are numb and after a while i get most of the feeling back. I am noticing my mobility is impaired and i am SOB. My incision is very sensative and i too have had shoulder poping and i feel some sternal movement as well as my collar bones. In the morning i wake up and my neck is swollen. There is a bone that seems to be up to high…I am sure maybe it is just because things take time to settle down.. . i am easily SOB I have tried to be very careful in moveemnts. I am now feeling even more like i am swollen in my chest and my abdomen feel very hard. I have a big belly as well which i need to lose… i really feel like i am having more pain then in the hospital. it is very uncomfortable to type and i can’t touch my shoulders and also after using the mens room i find it very hard and extremely apinful to reach and clean up… i am also having a lot of like a band like feeling down my L arm leaning forward is very painful.. . I also feel fuzzy and forgetful. anyone feel that… I have anxiety andd epression and i am trying to keep it at bay. I am a nurse case manager and i really don’t feel well. My cardiologist ofcourse said your body had a trama. I have other chronic pain and i have degeeration in my nech and this surgery has really upset that.. anyone have suggestions. I feel like i am going backwards not forward. Rehab has been canceled 3 times but next date is march 10th. I am currently not working and not being paid and i am not going to be able to do ther rehab as i cannot afford it. I have been blessed the hospital has covered me for 1 year although copays for many things. Money is dwindling and my stress level is rising.. Should i get a I am trying to be posiitve but currently i know i can’t deal withtyping/ stressful calls. can’t hold the phone long enough… what have others done to improve there well being?


Carol says on March 2nd, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I had aortic valve replacement in October 2013. All healed well and had no sternum clicking or other problems. However, I do have some mild shoulder pain which I don’t consider normal as compared with pre-surgery condition.


Sarah says on March 5th, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I am about 4, almost 5 years post op. I had an aortic valve replacement, and one year later a follow-up operation to remove as many of the wires and as much scar tissue as they could. I have done physical therapy, medications, and yet the pain is still constant daily. I’m only.29, and each year the pain seems more tolerable.. but I don’t imagine it magically disappearing.


Donna Bisaillon says on March 8th, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I am one month after open heart by pass suegery, I have right shoulder pain and have a large lump in my mid upper chest,it is also sore.


Melissa says on March 8th, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Hello, I had mitral valve repair in January, 2014, and am currently experiencing left shoulder pain which seems to worsen when I take a deep breath. It came on several weeks after surgery and was intially accompanied by back pain. The back pain has left. I was wondering how long to expect this shoulder pain to continue? Its does interfere with my sleep.


Kerry says on March 9th, 2014 at 12:28 am

Being 16 months out from surgery now, I can address several comments that I see. First and foremost, the shoulder pain does ease, but it does take some time. One of the best things that I found was simply a stretching and massaging of the shoulder area. It really seemed to take the edge off and rushes blood to that affected area. There are times that I still have a bit of pain, but it seems as though when I do stretching exercises, it makes a world of difference. Example, lay your neck to the left and right for 10-15 seconds each way and pull gently with your appropriate hand. Other times pull forward while your head is bent toward your shoulder. Another great one that helped me was to stand straight, pull your shoulders back like you are holding a walnut between your shoulder blades. Then drop your shoulder blades down and hold it there for 5 seconds. This helps to open up the very narrow passage that the affected nerve travels through. Rolling your shoulders also helps. I still do these stretches on a regular basis.
Concerning the clicking, after 16 months, there are times I still do this. Not near as much now, but occasionally it will still happen. This could simply be a cartilage issue is what my doctor said.
The raised knot in the upper part of the chest is fairly normal. I had that too, and it is beginning to slowly go down.
As far as the incision discomfort, use Mederma! You may not think it is doing anything but I promise you that after a period of time it makes a difference. Here is how I know.
I too was still having a lot of pain in my chest area. During the spring and summer, as I tried to get more active, the pain got much worse. This brought on a serious case of depression and I am usually an incredibly positive individual. it got to the place where I had wished I had never had my surgery. Aneurysm/aortic valve & root replacement. My surgeon told me I might have lived a couple more months, that’s how close I was. But even though I knew about the depression, I was not ready for the pain that I was still feeling. I told my GP and surgeon, but they told me to take it easy. I finally pushed the issue with the surgeon’s nurse and she ordered me an X-ray. They called me back and told me I had a broken wire in my chest. Upon having another surgery, I actually had 2 of my sternal wires that were broken and really doing a number on my chest and general well being. The same day as the surgery, I told them I felt great and wanted out now. I left the hospital and went with my family out to eat! So if you are still in pain in your chest, have it checked out. I lived with mine from December to October.
Hope some of this information helps.


john brown says on March 17th, 2014 at 5:23 am

I had a bypass in NOV 2013 I have lots of clicking and pain in my chest. I have been back to see my surgeon and he has told me I may have to have steel plates screwed into my chest bones. at the moment I am waiting to have a scan. Fingers crossed we can get things sorted out. Date now March 17 2014.


Leslie says on April 9th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

My name is Leslie and I am a 47 years young and I had double bypass 2/6/14. I too am having this clicjpking or popping when I bend over to wash my hands or brush my teeth? Sometimes if I sit just right or move it will happen. I also have shoulder pain on the back side and it’s below the cuff…I feel like I need a massage bad and it feels like I’ve been impaled and I feel heat it’s very hard to sleep. The cardio thoracic doctor wants to see me again on the 23 he said something about a possible revision? Please tell me that doesn’t mean cutting me open again??? I sure hope not ;)


michael ventola says on April 10th, 2014 at 10:57 am

Leslie a revision could mean that however they say give it a while. t has been since Dec3rd and i feel like i can’t breathe like something is on my chest pushing..comstant popping in the arms and pain in the mid chest and upper chest. i have felt pain in my sternunm when i brush teeth or bend over Unfortunetly i have found you get few answers after the fact… 3 months now i have a hard time holding up my arms or head. I am told things take time. Well it started 4-6 weeks then 6-9 then 9-12 now people say you should be fine…. I am more short of breath now than i ever was. I would bring a pen and papaer and write things down.. I also think everyone is different On this blog some people have suffered for 18 months…. Get informed, ask about a massage and maybe a chiropractor, Make sure you talk with your surgeon first. i am not able to do chiropractor but i have heard it helps get your bones back in order. Ice as well helps alot. Motrin if you can take it……. I wish you luck. I am now unemployed as it has been 3 months and my employer can’t wait forever. I will probably have a cat scan in june if this persists. I Hope things go well for you!! Mike


Leslie says on April 10th, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Thanks Mike…one day at a time I guess?? I keep forgetting I’m not 100% sometimes and am ready to go go go however I get tired now and nap each day. Yes, I need a massage I will ask about that. I feel I am better than I was before and I know that muscles and nerves will heal and cause their own strange feelings, but I just don’t like the way my chest feels or SOUNDS. I really can’t wrap my mind around what they actually did to my body..I try not to read on Google because it freaks me out oh speaking of which, let me tell you this, this is horrible….two years ago my husband had triple bypass he did great, but the third day, he threw a clot on the brain stem and died…….then I had to go thru the exact same surgery with the same dr. Isn’t that ironic? Anyway, everyone has their own story ya know? But thanks for all your info and I wish you all the blessings and healing and stay positive….your not walking alone….God Bless… Leslie


michael ventola says on April 11th, 2014 at 8:53 am

Dear Leslie, i would certainly say that was ironic… I am so sorry for your loss. as far as looking on line. i think some info is helpful. What i have found is that the MD isn’t helpful. They should certainly be prepared to explain all the things we will have to deal with. This am i am still feeling like something is wrong in my upper sterum as well as inability to take a deep breath without forcing it. as long as i breathe i try not to worry.. Do some breathing ,pierced exhalation and that will help calm the chest. do it 10 times like almost meditating….. I hope we all feel better soon. This is a nice place to vent when you don’t get answers else where. I just got a call my dad has CA unsure what type or treatment etc God doesn’t give us more than we can handle… Sometimes i think he thinks we are all bad asses :)…God bless and feel beter soon Mike


Gary Z says on April 16th, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Michael (Feb 24), I had mitral valve repair at 62 (congenital defect) and found that the biggest post-op problem was back pain. I started walking 1 mile per day after one week and increased it to 2 after a month. Speed of walk is not important. Oxygenating the blood is a terrific healer. I forced myself to exercise/stetch/flex. The harder I worked at it the quicker the pain went away. By doing walking and exercising I avoided rehab entirely. It is counter-intuitive, but by challenging the body, I got to normal faster. Hope this helps.


steff says on April 24th, 2014 at 8:50 am

I had a heart transplant almost 12 weeks ago and the sternum clicking is mostly gone although I have only recently been able to lie on my side and it hurts a bit! I had some arm pain but until I read this I didn’t really put 2 and 2 together and it almost gone now. I was told by my surgeon that the clicking was due to the hyper-extension of the ribs, inter-costal muscle and ligaments which means the muscle and ligaments are stretched and don’t hold the ribs firmly in the sockets so they pop in and out until the tissue recovers and tightens up again. The popping is now much reduced but the muscle is still pretty weak and swells up around the incision if I overdo the lifting or my daughters pull on my arms repeatedly or unexpectedly (they’re 3 and 5). I’m lucky that I live in country with free healthcare so I stayed in hospital for the first 6 weeks in outpatient accommodation, getting daily physiotherapy and this continues with fortnightly visits to my cardiologist for check ups, I also choose to pay for private care mainly because it is inexpensive and means you can get immediate treatment rather treatment according to need but it doesn’t cover heart transplants, so thank you public health system! I dread to think how I would cope if I had to pay for my drugs ($5000 per month) and flights/travel costs to hospital instead of getting them supplied free of charge as I need them for life.


Sandra says on April 25th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I had quad bypass surgery 3/5/14. Everything went very well in surgery and after. Came home on day 5 with doctor’s all telling me I was doing great. This is beginning of 7th week and I am having pain in left arm and between shoulder blades, at night so severe that I cannot rest.
My question is: Is this normal at this time and is anyone else having this problem or anything like it?


john brown says on April 29th, 2014 at 2:35 am

I had a bypass op in Nov 2013 and after 5 months i was still getting clicking and popping in my chest, it was decided that i would have a CT scan, which i did and the scan showed that my chest had not fused together so now i have to decide to have steel plates screwed into my chest to hold it together or live the rest of my life with my chest in two halves with all the movement, ie clicking and popping.


Amanda says on May 18th, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I had my tricuspid valve repaired two weeks ago along with a few other procedures to repair a congenital heart defect. I’m 30 years old and I’m in very good health otherwise. I have not experienced sternum clicking but I have sharp pains in my right shoulder that increase when I’m active, particularly when I’m walking.


Melissa says on May 20th, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I had heart surgery last January and still get a “popping” sound when I sneeze or cough. Pushing in with my fist helps. I also experienced severe shoulder and back pain about 3 weeks after surgery which lingered on for several weeks (no fun!). I was only allowed to take Aleve, which really didn’t seem to make much difference. I slept on a heating pad and had it draped over my shoulder when sitting, and the pain gradually went away and has never come back. I wish I would have been allowed to try a muscle relaxant, it might have stopped the pain in its tracks. I understand shoulder and back pain is fairly common after surgery, even several weeks later..


kavs says on July 4th, 2014 at 9:18 am

Hi, All,
I under went Bypass surgery in Nov 2007.My left arm joint gives some pain during nights at sleep.I tried with many ways to reduce but no results..All other parameters are under control.


christy says on July 6th, 2014 at 11:40 pm

I had tricuspid valve replacement two weeks ago. I originally had a repair done back in december, I almost died cause my body was in ful septic shock and I spent 17 days on life support. Due to myvinfection and all my organd failing they did a poor repair. Well six months later im already being sawed open. At the same time I dun wanna di from heart failure so I did what had ro be done. Well its been two weeks and my chest uper back shoulder and neck all hurt it frels like all my muscles are being sliced and diced with a knife. Sucks!


Colette McDiarmid says on July 13th, 2014 at 1:02 am

I had mitral valve surgery in May this year and experienced back pain within the first week and then shoulder pain and clicking of the sternum. The back pain was determined to be muscle spams as I was supporting my arms and hunching over quite a bit. I thought the Dr. was joking when he suggested Advil for the pain. But it definitely did the trick. I also found when I came home that trying to have a shower and wash my hair and trying to get dressed for the day aggravated my back muscles. I looked for ways to ease the pain during these things or timed it so that I could sit with a hot pad on my back after I had finished. It has been getting easier with each passing day.

With the shoulder pain that started on the left side with my first walks and I thought it was angina. Now I find my shoulders are sore when over working my arms. Neck stretching exercises the hospital gives helps out a bit. My shoulders always have clicked before and after surgery, so no real change there.

And I did get that disgusting feeling of my sternum clicking and took me three days to figure out that if I asked for help and gave myself a break and stopped over reaching for things it subsided.

Funny thing typing this letter while sitting in an poorly supported chair also aggravates my back and shoulders. I had bad posture to begin with and I think this will definitely be something I will have to work on in rehab.

Hope this helps. Great Book. Could not thank you enough.


b venitt says on July 15th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

They all don’t realize they have non fusion of the sternum. I had my first open heart surgery Oct 2012. The sternum did not fuse and then was dehisced and had horizontal fractures where the metal bands had cut through. I had it rewired 3x and it opened each time. I used a different top surgeon each time. On each occasion they refused to believe it had not fused until I had a CT scan. I do not have any medical condtion which explains this. I am sure this is what all the people who complain of the same pains, poping and snapping of the sternum have. They just don’t know it. I had all the symptons, and the docs are very resistant to checking their work. Good luck all of you out there.


James says on July 31st, 2014 at 5:08 pm

(I had my surgery on June 23/2014 .
And now I notice clicking and popping in my Sternum,I also have shoulder pain.
Have not returned to my doctor yet because I think this is normal and there is no pain in my sternum.They tell me shoulder pain is just nerves from being on the table for so long,




Nancy says on August 12th, 2014 at 11:03 am

I had triple bypass surgery 3 years ago my chest never healed right Dr told me that my sternam is jointed and it wasn’t alinged right have a lot of back pain and can only sleep on left side.


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