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“Can My Sternum Wires Cause Chest Pain Two Years After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Jake

Posted by Adam Pick on August 23rd, 2011

I just received a very interesting question from Jake about chest pain, sternum wires and heart valve surgery.

Jake writes to me, “Dear Adam – It’s been 2 years since my aortic valve replacement operation. While my heart is doing great, I still have a very sensitive incision. There are spots along my sternum that, if I press on, cause a shot of pain. My chest also hurts if I twist in odd ways. Is it possible that the sternum wires are causing this discomfort. If so, can I get them taken out? Is that a big procedure? Thanks! Jake”

Sternum Wireds On Chest Xray
Xray of Sternum Wires After Open Heart Surgery

While I have my own thoughts on this topic, I wanted to provide Jake an expert opinion. That said, I contacted Dr. Lishan Aklog, the Chief of Cardiovascualr Surgery at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, to learn more.

So you know, Dr. Lishan Aklog has performed over 2,000 cardiac procedures of which more than 60% involved heart valve treatment. Dr. Aklog specializes in mitral valve repair with minimally invasive approaches.

Dr. Lishan Aklog
Dr. Lishan Aklog – Heart Valve Surgeon

Here is Dr. Aklog’s direct response to Jake’s questions…

Dear Jake,

Sorry to hear you are having sternal problems following your valve surgery.  The most important thing is to determine whether your sternum has, in fact, properly healed.  Some patients can have areas where the bone did not fully fuse (“non-union”) and this can lead to pain with motion.  Your surgeon can get a sense of this by carefully examining you but usually a CT scan is helpful to determine whether there are any gaps in healing.

If the bone is fully healed then the pain can simply be related to one or more of your wires.  These can be removed.  It does require surgery, usually a brief general anesthetic, but it is not a big procedure and most patients go home the same day or the next.

Rigid Fixation For Heart Surgery Incisions By Biomet
SternaLock For Sternal Closure

If the bone is not fully healed then the sternum can be reconstructed.  This is a bit more involved but not as much as the original surgery.  We use a system of titanium plates and screws called SternaLock to rigidly put the bone back together.  In fact, we use this system routinely at the time of the original surgery and have found it to decrease pain, improve healing and accelerate the patient’s return to normal activity.

I hope that helps!
Dr. Aklog

Thanks to Jake for his question and a special thanks to Dr. Lishan Aklog for sharing his clinical work with our patient and caregiver community!

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.


Lucy says on August 24th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Wow, i am 1 1/2 years out from surgery, while touching my incision i have no issues, certain movements i feel a twinge. don’t know if its the muscles or what, can’t put my finger on it, i also thought it might be the wires. can’t replicate it though, for me it’s just a certain movement. that being said, at gym i get no pains whatsoever. but just when i am laying in bed and moving around say to read or something i get a zinger and then its gone….hmmm….


Rosie says on August 24th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hi Jake,
It took almost a year for my sternum to heal enough for me to sleep in my own bed. I was sleeping in an awkward position on the sofa to keep my sternum from hurting. After almost 3 years I am much better, however if I twist or bend forward to lift something I can be sore for a while, and it has always been sore to the touch. My surgeon told me that some people have a sternum that just never heals completely after open heart surgery. I am a 65 year old woman — mitral valve replacement 3 years ago and am thankful for the replacement, but I think I will always have a sore chest. Good luck to you !!!!!!


Roberta says on August 24th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

This is a very timely, post. I am almost 2 years post-op and still experiencing intermittent sternal pain. It seems to be exacerbated when I do yoga or when wearing a seatbelt(chest strap). Some nights When I sleep on my stomach, I can wake up in the middle of the night from a hot jabbing pain coming from the middle of the sternum. When I touch the middle of my sternum I can actually feel a wire touching the skin surface.
I wonder if there is a chance to get the wires removal via ‘local anaesthetic’ rather than brief general? I don’t relish the idea of being ‘put under’ again.
Any thoughts?


Rosie says on August 24th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

As a follow-up, I feel that some of my discomfort is where the cartilage attaches to the rib bones. When the sternum is spread, all of these things move and they just do not seem to heal completely. It is great hearing from others about this !!!


Jane says on August 24th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I’m just one year out from my Ross procedure and I also have the small spots and sore incision. I tried patches and creams but to no avail. My surgeon said it could take years to heal. There is a name for his condition and he said that there was nothing he could do. However, I would rather live with this than not live at all.


Neil Kortie says on August 24th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Wow, I am just over two years since aortic valve replacement and I too get an occasional zinger or sharp pain and was wondering if it was the wires causing it. I have a fear that a wire will stab me in the heart and kill me. I wonder what the chances of that are? After all these testimonials I guess we are all normal.


Dale P. says on August 24th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I’ll be two years post-op in November, and I, too, have discomfort from my wires. I’ve lost a lot of weight since my surgery (intentionally), and the wires stick out quite a bit now. Not sure if I’m ready for more surgery (or more anesthesia), but it’s good to know that the procedure is not very complicated. And yes, seat belts, and some bras, cause me discomfort, too.


Ricky (a female) says on August 24th, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Everything just takes time to heal.You will be okay.I had twitches even 3,4 years later. Just for a second or two ……then okay.Take care everyone…..KEEP TICKIN


Bev Newman says on August 24th, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I had an aortic valve replacement (titanium) three years ago, and I still experience twinges of pain at various times. Sometimes it is worse after lifting. When it rains my incision can still feel sensitive to the touch. When I sleep on my stomach to try to silence the noise of the mechanical value which really bothers me especially at night, my sternum hurs. I am also glad to be alive and will put up with the discomfort. I am glad to know that I am not alone in experiencing discomfort at times.


Maggie says on August 24th, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Such a timely post. It’s good to hear this can be normal for people a few years out. I am only 6 months out from my aortic valve replacement and I am still quite sore some days…
Thank you for the post Adam. It’s a great question and good to know I’m not the only one out there.


Pamela says on August 25th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Its been a little over 3 months for me and my incision is still so very tender. I told my Dr. and he said to me remember its only been 3 months but it will get better. Reading all these comments I think it may get better but not ever totally pain free. I too am very grateful to be alive so I guess I will just bite the bullet and find joy in this here journey. Good luck to all of you, Thanks adam for the Blog.


Lisa says on August 26th, 2011 at 3:36 am

I am 2.5 years out from my mitral valve repair and had pretty severe pain from my sternal wires. I had all of them removed about a year after my OHS. I am very glad I did it, although I do still have some aches and pains in my sternum with lots of exertion or with weather changes, this is common for most broken bones. I did have to have a CT scan prior to ensure my sternum had healed correctly and it had. I was also interested in something less than general anaesthesia and was told “you absolutely do not want to be awake while we yank wires out of your chest.” I do understand that the procedure can be a bit brutal as the bone can grow around the wire. I would encourage people who are having a lot of pain to inquire about the procedure, but some aches and pains are to be expected due to the chest trauma we have been through. I was only in the hospital for a few hours for the procedure (the surgery itself was about an hour), I was pretty sore for about 2 weeks, but the overwhelming pain I’d had from the wires was gone when I woke from anaesthesia. I only took a couple of days off off work. I hope my experience helps, best wishes.


Tracy says on August 26th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Because of sharp pains in sternum 6 months post-surgery, I had the middle 4 wires removed in day surgery (general anesthesia). It was super easy–1/2 hour surgery, wake up, lunch, and home–and it worked completely. (I asked about local, and the anesthesiologist basically said it kind of requires a lot of physical work to get the wires out, so it sounds like it would be too unnerving for the patient.) When the wires are the problem, getting them out is a big relief.


Mary Ferraro says on August 28th, 2011 at 11:34 am

Almost 3 years after MV repair and I feel great and grateful . . .but my sternum is annoying. It makes me feel better just to know that others are having the same experiences and that there are options for us. Thanks to you all and to Adam and to Dr. Aklog.


Michelle C. says on August 30th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Hi there

I had a mitral valve repair in December and when speaking to my cardiologist, he said while the day to day pain will subside in my chest within months, there will be times when I move just right that it will hurt. He said 15 years from now that I could be twisting to put my seat belt on and it could hurt. I know that even now…..almost 9 months later I still have pain every once in awhile in my incision and the muscles. I sometimes forget that they cut through all of that. :-)

I am so incredibly blessed and grateful to have had my mitral valve repaired and I feel AMAZING!!!


donna lakey says on August 31st, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I have had a mitral valve replaced 22 years ago and i still get small twinges on my chest bone and i still hate the noise of my valve ticking but it is a small price to pay to be alive.To day my mother in law has just undergone the same surgery only on her aortic valve and she is the ripe old age of 88 years and is recovering in the ICU .


Ricky (a female) says on September 1st, 2011 at 2:04 pm

RE: Donna L…….WOW…..88 years old ,to go through such surgery
is amazing!!!!!!May God bless her,so she has MANY MANY MORE HEALTHY
,HAPPY YEARS!!!! For you also.I am almost 9 years post Mitro valve
replacement.I also tick ……My saying is,”I took a licking and
keep on ticking.”


J says on September 1st, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I am in the health care field and i work with surgeons who use the titanium plates and i can tell you from hundreds of patient reports that the plates definitely make a difference in postoperative pain. I have been working as a nurse in cardiac surgery for 11 years now and i continue to be shocked and relieved that we have lots of patients who never require one pain pill after discharge. The patients who do require meds are usually on them for only a week or 2.
To all of you who have had surgery, great job with your recoveries and keep on ticking.


BW says on September 2nd, 2011 at 10:43 am

It’s been just over 5 mths since my Aortic valve replacement and my sternum is still sore and can be painful if I push on it or sometimes when I try to lie on my stomach. Tough to get comfortable some nights. I’m overall very happy with my recovery and have returned to most of my normal activities by now – though weight lifting will take some more time. It’s very helpful to know that I can expect some discomfort for the foreseeable future and that what I feel is within the norm. Best of luck to everyone with your recovery.


Ricky (a female) says on September 2nd, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Hi BW,I just saw your comment.Did you get a ”heart” pillow for your recovery?? If not,I was just thinking,if you get a TRAVEL size pillow(small version) of a poly filled pillow.That might help with your sleeping discomfort. You should also use it in the car,next to your chest with the seat belt over the pillow.It will protect your sternum.Use it when you cough also.KEEP TICKIN…….


oswald menezes says on September 4th, 2011 at 4:53 am

Its been 2 months since my AVR (Mechanical, model 19, St judes). From past few 4 days I feel little dizziness. my heart beat is below 80 and BP around 135/85. Is some body is experiencing the feeling of dizziness after AVR?. Please share


grace says on September 6th, 2011 at 12:14 am

I had mitre valve replacement in 2004 and then just 3 months ago had to have it done again as tissue was keeping it from working. The tissue grew around it. Went to the E.R. with heart failure. It was 4 days later I had the surgery. I am in extreme pain, in my sternum and in my back right at the bra fastening. It goes right from the front to the back. I have been in pain all this time. I have been taking pain pills, the doctor has me on fentanyl patch 50. I can not pick up anything I drop as it feels like my muscles are falling out, extreme pain that causes me to cry. When I wake up in the morning it is hard for me to breathe. I try to take deep breaths and that hurts me also, finally I get back to normal breathing, Doctor is sending me to pain management and see if they can help me. Any suggestions?


Dale P. says on September 6th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Oswald, are you taking beta blockers? I took them for several weeks after my surgery, and experienced the same thing. The medication keeps your blood pressure nice and low, but if you’re like me and already have fairly low blood pressure, it can be a bit much. Hence the dizziness.


virginia A says on September 14th, 2011 at 6:04 am

my husband had an aeortic valve replaced 27 years ago he was 24. He has lead an amazingly active life playing sport and working on our farm. He had quite a few times when the wires would poke through his skin and he would need to have them cut off. The last time would be about 10 years ago. It was always his dream to scuba dive and about 4 years ago our kids bought him diving lessons, he passed the medical and now goes diving most weekends winter and summer. I used to worry every day when he went to work on the farm that it could be his last but now i wonder if he will out live me! He has had some scrapes over the years once he was hit in the back by a boulder when he was mustering and of course the bruising was dreadful and of course you need to be careful of any infections and some of his work means the risk is high, but so far he has escaped serious harm. For all of you out there with a new heart valve this is your chance to live life to the full. Before his heart valve he was weak and found life hard going, as a child he had never been able to participate in sport or high stress activities. Getting his new valve was like a new life for him and believe me he has never looked back. Riding motorbikes on and off road, playing rugby, and his farming have kept him healthy and happy. Good luck to you all.


laurence d says on September 14th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

i had a 5-artery by-pass in 2005. the stitches all failed and i had titanium strips put in me in 2007. i have a lot of pain in my right chest sternum area. x-rays showed the plates as well as all the wires that were left. do they not remove the broken wire stitches before putting in the plates? i also have a little “itchy spot ” in my right chest wall that causes me to cough a lot. anybody else have this problem


Doug says on November 7th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

My son is a 20 yo who underwent aortic valve replacement 5 days ago. He has seen a funny light in his vision lasting just a second for past few days. Has anyone experienced that? Thanks, Doug


lyzbeth says on November 12th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I have just read all the post and am feeling such relief,It proves sharing your experience does help others I felt so alone not wanting to say I’m still hurting I thought it was just me. I had Aortic valve replacement 5 months ago and am still having a lot of discomfort, the worse is first thing in the morning when I wake up, turning over is not at all easy anymore , on the upside I to am so grateful to be alive and to be given a second chance. At the moment I’m half way through cardiac rehab, not having any trouble with it so far, it has also given me some confidence back. Thank you, keep it up everyone and take care.


Fran says on November 13th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I too, had lights, spots, etc with my vision for a few months after surgery and it did clear up. Having followed many journals before and after my mitral and tricuspid valve surgery last year, I quickly realized this was “the norm” for many of us. Mention it to the cardio and then relax and wait it out.


Dale P. says on November 13th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Doug, I had a number of things like that, including a couple of times when I saw things in “negative” mode (that is, everything looked like it would in a photographic negative). I hope he’s over all of this soon. It’s worth talking to the doctor about, no matter what.


Jonathan says on December 13th, 2011 at 3:25 am

It has been 19yrs since my last surgery. I am 29yrs old and have had 3 open-heart surgeries. Nearly all of the wires within my sternum aren’t connected anymore. In a recent X-ray picture, my chest looks like a christmas tree with the wires of ornaments hanging, without the ornaments. Arthritis has built up in my chest over the past 4 years. During stress and cold weather, my chest, especially the left side, is swollen. The pain is often excruciating. Nonetheless, I have been told by a few cardiologists that there is nothing that can really be done to help.


Shannon says on February 9th, 2012 at 2:04 am

I can relate to a lot of you. My heart surgery 2 years ago. I have had pain ever since. After 9 months of very severe pain I had 3 wires removed. This gave me around 6 weeks of relief. I have seen several doctors and physical therapists and my pain still controls my life. It hurts when I cook, drive, get out of bed, I can’t sleep and have been prescribed more drugs than I can count. When my chest gets inflammation the pain is excruciating, usually once a month. I feel comforted that I am not alone. I am 41yrs old and I am determined to find a way to control my pain and return to a life without pain. Please share if you have something that works.


Heather says on March 30th, 2012 at 2:58 am

I recently came across this post searching for some unanswered questions. I am only 22 years old and have had 3 open heart surgeries. In November 2012 I will be 2 years post op of my pulmonary valve replacement. In august of 2011 I had surgery to remove sternal wires because I had several wires free floating thru my chest. Now, it has come to my attention by numerous doctors I have a dissinegrating chest wall. I have days when I can’t get out of bed it hurts so bad. This is incovenient because i am a single mother to a two year old. I recently moved to Arizona and still have not found a cardiologist. At one point it was discussed to reconstruct my chest wall. I am trying to find some answers for relief. I would like to get in contact with the doctor mentioned above….could someone help?


Sandy Sebring says on July 15th, 2012 at 10:02 am

I had Aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair in March. I have had two hospitalizations for breathing problems. I have had this problem since surgery. I also could not get rid of any pressure in my diaphram area so I stuck my finger down my throat for 2 months just so I could burp. It seems better now but sometimes I feel that pressure and want to stick my finger down my throat to relieve it but the doctors said I could cause aspiration pneumonia. I also have the pain in the left side of my chest that feels like a muscle. My sternum bone sticks out some in my incision. I appreciate everyone’s comments and makes me feel better about the pain knowing that’s normal.. What I need to know is if anyone has experienced the breathing problems. I still cannot walk for a distance without having to stop and take deep breaths. I am on a steroid inhaler but it gives my heart extra beats. I have a rescue inhaler if I need it. It has stymied “ALL” my doctors, especially the burping problem to relieve presssure. Thanks for any comments.


Shirley says on August 5th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Sandy: It has been two years since my aortic valve was replaced. I seemed fine but a year after I have breathing problems and it seems like a pressure on my chest and into my stomach. I have asthma and also when I twisted I had a pain that went down through my whole scar. I also had my gallbladder out and a pacemaker after the AVR. Don’t know if this is asthma, something with the sternum, reflux, stomach or the valve failing after only two years, or maybe even anxiety over having to take time off work. I do have a “harsh” murmur but then I had one two weeks after surgery. My doctor said the surgeon put in the largest valve available but it was not enough (apparently women need larger valves)and that my gradient is high but he was not worried about that because the size of the valve probably did not allow the valve to seal as tight as they would like. He also said there are a lot of people who undergo two and three aortic valve replacements. I had a good experience and no pain with this replacement, mostly I worry about the financial aspect of it. Did they do any tests on your valve, like an echocardiogram to look at that. I guess we are at a point where we will have these little problems pop up.


Sandy says on August 5th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Thanks Shirley. It sounds alot like me and my breathing and burping problems. It will be 5 months since my surgery this week. Finally my breathing has gotten normal. At least I’m able to walk a distance without having the wall hold me up. I don’t use my steroid inhaler anymore because I didn’t like the way I felt. But it probably did it’s job in clearing up the inflamation in my lungs. I haven’t had to use the other inhaler in awhile. I still have pressure in my gut sometimes, but usually I can relieve it by burping normally. There have been a few times when I have had to stick my finger down my throat to get the burp up, but it is less frequent than before. My sternum feels sore when I press on the middle but at least it doesn’t hurt when breathing. I may have a couple of wires that stick once in awhile, but it’s something I can live with. So….I guess things eventually get better and some we just have to put up with. And I don’t have full blown asthma..thank goodness. But I do have the inhaler to open me up if I breathe in polluted air or smoke. I hope your problems will clear up also. The breathing and pressure can be really annoying. Good luck!


Martha says on August 7th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I had my wires removed a little over a year after AVR. What a difference! Now I can twist and bend and lift things without any discomfort. The procedure was a piece of cake – home the same day and very little pain which only lasted a day or so. I am so glad that I did it. If the sternum has healed, the wires are serving no purpose.


Ken says on August 9th, 2012 at 6:43 am

I am having my aoritic valve replaced Aug 14, 2012. After reading the above, I decided to withdraw from an optional research program to donate sternum bone marrow, which is extracted via multiple holes punched in the sternum to extract marrow samples with some sort of suction hypodermic instrument. One of the risks mentioned in the research paper is delayed healing and bleeding. After the marrow is withdrawn then the sternum is cut and the operation precedes. I’m 75 and am told I have osteopenia. Thanks for this insite. Just one less worry that I can’t blame for future pain.


Kay Blanks says on September 17th, 2012 at 5:44 am

It is Now Sept 17, 2012, I had triple bypass and aorta valve replacement on May 14, 2012. I feel I have had a great recovery. At this time, however, I am experiencing some pain on the inside of my right breast/ sternum area. I have large breasts and the weight is a problem with this sudden discomfort, even though I have worn a sports bra 24/7 as my heart surgeon recommended, I am faithful tin doing this. Becoming concerned with this newest pain I am concerned, as I am to return to rehab and finish my classes. I don\’t want to risk creating more of a problem with the unexplained pain. I feel I need to check with my surgeon before I get back into rehab.

Regarding the recliner usage after surgery, it did not work well for me, because of pulling the handle to raise and lower the legs. It was straining aggravated my chest area. I thought it would be a good idea, but it didn\’t work for me. I also, as the others have mentioned here had a horrible time for the first 6 weeks plus in getting up and down in a laying position, especially on my back. My bed was too high, and once I tried using the step to get up, which turned into a fiasco, as I had 3 incisions on the inside thigh of my left leg, one was right in the bend of my knee. It was swollen and tight, and i still had a drain bag strapped to my calf for two weeks when I returned home. I about killed myself getting into my bed and then out ONE time. Finally I found that the best place for me, a sofa that was lower to the floor. I took my husband\’s belt and wound it through a metal part of the table which was very sturdy and I would use the belt to hold onto then pull myself slowly to get my feet on the floor. What did happen from the results of all of that was my breasts (both) became extremely sore, which I thought this would last forever, but finally subsided. They were almost as painful as the sternum when I had to lay flat or rise from the flat position. WOW!

Before I entered the hospital I asked my surgeon if he would give me a prescription for a hospital bed to put into my den. He didn\’t think I would need it, but I feel now that he was afraid I would lay too long and not move around as he wanted. I later told him of my nightmare of the raising up and down and again explained I should have had the hospital bed. He said it sounded like a very good idea! ;)

I had a lot to say, and I do hope it will help someone else before surgery. It is best to have everything you need and have your little \”hospital area\” all together, as it just aids in your healing and comfort. You are not able to gather or fend for yourself for many weeks after you are home.


Frank says on October 12th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I have not read anything that can match my experience. I had arotic valve replacement 12 years ago and mine has never stopped hurting. Two weeks after surgery everything was fine and I think I over did it one day and it starting hurting. The doctor said it would go away – obvious by my post it has not. I have a sharp pain at the very base of my sternum. It hurts EVERY day. I have seen a few doctors who said it was scar tissue. I am going to the doctor again but the problem is trying to figure out what kind of doctor to see. As a side note – the heart is doing great.


frank says on October 15th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced (mech St. Judes) and my ascending aorta repaired(aneurysm) Apr 28, 2010 (my 70th birthday). The only wires I can recall were removed before I left the hospital. I never had any sternum pain. I ask if my sternum was wired. I wasd told that I was glued. I golf 3 or 4 days a week and walk 9 holes and ride 9 holes. The only problem I have is pain in both shoulders . I don’t think the pain is from the surgery. I am sorry to hear about so many wire problems. I am not sure if I am wired or not.


Tina says on November 2nd, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I had an AVR and Aortic root replacement in August 2009. I was 48 years old. Just started getting a little discomfort in the base of my sternum. Not too bad though. Well worth the price for still being around to post this comment. I too had lots of problems with my eyes for about two years. Sparkly circles and Grey outs in my right eye. Seems to be much fewer and far between now but still happens every now and then. I can feel my wires but they dont cause me any problems. My scar is practically invisible. I can thank the Bio Oil for that. My cardiac rehab nurse recommended me to use it ASAP after my surgery. I was back at work after 6 months and I must say that I am enjoying life to the full. Only downside is taking warfarin for the rest of my life and not being able to enjoy a drink any more. Just 2 units a day allowed, hardly worth it so dont bother LOL. Hope you all feel better soon. Keep Tickin. I dont really hear my valve ticking any more unless I wake in the night and its very quiet. My surgeon said I would get used to the tick, and I have. Thank goodness because it drove me nearly mad for the first year.


John says on November 12th, 2012 at 2:24 am

I had my surgery May 29 2012 and for the most part I am doing well. My chest is still very sore along the incision and I have pain at times because the chest muscles still hurt. Part of my chest is also numb. I thought I would be in less pain at this stage of recovery. Is there something I should be doing to expedite this recovery?


TeflonDiva says on December 4th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

All of you have made me feel so much better! I was born with a heart defect and have had 3 open heart surgeries (two pulmonary valve and an aortic valve replacement). They used titanium plates in the last surgery and although I have healed well, I get a pain almost like a cramp or something when I move in a certain position. I was worried because I want to start yoga and I was wondering if its prevented anyone from doing that.


chris says on January 22nd, 2013 at 5:14 am

My 19 year old daughter is 3 months post op open heart surgery gor an ASD. The surgery was done horizontally under both breasts, a bit like a cat smile. She is experiencing the most horrendous pain, that leaves her in floods of tears. Spoke to the GP last week who thought she was having a PE (!) and sent her straight to A & E.Needless to say, she sat there for 5 hours for nothing. Chest x ray clear, ECG showed arythmias, and bloods showed no infection, but I am concerned she now either has an infection, or it is the wires, or the ribcage has moved. She feels the pain across her sternum, shoulders and neck, and when she has a palpitation, it hurts. She is sobbing. She has a 1 year old, and is so distraught but no one seems to take her seriously.


shannon koob says on January 22nd, 2013 at 11:01 am

Chris, sorry to hear of your daughters pain. I have experienced that hit the floor, crippling, pain that makes u cry for three years now. I understand! I had 3 wires removed 2 yrs ago and am having the last 3 taken out on Thursday. I am praying this will take the pain away. Please give ur daughter lots of support, she will need it.


Cindy says on January 29th, 2013 at 11:34 am

I had an aortic valve replacement in Sept 2012. I have been recovering and went back to work in January 2013. I have pain about two times a month, that knocks me to my knees. It is chest pain, but the cardiologists says it has to be related to a disk in my neck. My heart is in better shape than it ever has been, but I am tired very easy now, and I don’t know if it is still part of the recovery or something else going on now. It feels like a heart attack because it travels down my left arm, or radiates into my back. Does anyone else out there have this issue? And if so, what has your doctor said about it?


D, Pacheco says on June 13th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I am 46 yrs old, 6 months ago I had 6 artery bypass surgery. Everything went well, but I feel sharp pain like a stabbing pain in my chest, was told it was the nerves healing. Has anyone felt the same, and what do you do to help with the pain….


Pat Lemieux says on June 14th, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I just had valve replacement 3 months ago. and I still get this wierd feeling like my breast is being pulled. anyone else get this or am I just wierd


chris says on June 15th, 2013 at 2:33 am

Hi, chris again, daughter had open heart surgery for a large ASD. It has now been diagnosed as Acute Dresslers syndrome, nothing to do with rib cage apparently. They didn’t tell us about Dresslers. 5 admissions to hospital in 6 months with pericarditis and on Morphine, colchicine and 2400mgs, yes you read that right a day for a month! They do not know when it will stop. Before you consider the surgery, please read about Dresslers!!!!!!!


Shelley says on July 1st, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I had open heart surgery a month and a half ago and am feeling lots of pain on my incision. I can barely wear a shirt. My energy and strength are returning, but the discomfort is intense. Any suggestions?


Shannon Koob says on July 1st, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I had the same pain for 9 months until my wires stated poking out of my chest. I had 3 removed and had to wait 1.5 years later to remove the rest ( to risky because of inflammation) The pain is better but still there 3 years later. Good luck, I have no suggestions, sorry.


Tina says on July 2nd, 2013 at 6:46 am

Please don’t worry yourself too much about this. You are only just through your surgery and it can take up to 6 months for everything to settle down. you have had major surgery after all. Just make sure that you take things very easy for at least 12 weeks to allow everything to heal properly. If you can get away with not using your arms at all then you will be investing in a pain free future. Keep taking your pain killers. You will be able to start weaning yourself off them after the 12 weeks. I promise you that things will get better. I too have had open heart surgery. Most of us feel much better in time with just a few of us suffering complications. I am back at work and fitter than I was before the surgery. It’s all worth it in the end. Please don’t hesitate to ask if there is anything else that I can help with. x


gwen says on July 2nd, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Just had surgery on May 25,2013 heart valve replacement,experiencing pain on right side under my breast .I was told to wear a sport bra but it made it worse, could this be from the surgery he went on my lkuo side the incision was made on the side of my breasr


EVA THOMA says on July 5th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I had a double by-pass in September, 2012. I had little to no pain after surgery, but, I have little to no recall after the surgery for at least 3 weeks. It was just horrible for me. I had AF and my breathing was awful. I have COPD so that didn’t help. I think I would have coped better if they had given me a pill for anxiety. I just layed there praying to die, but, guess God didn’t want me yet. I think I would have been better if they had not kept me in ICU for 3 weeks. The bed was horrible and the chairs were so uncomfortable.
I have a better quality of life now than I did before. I can use the walker instead of the scooter chair which is a blessing for my family. I know I should exercise more, but, when I do I feel the wires also. Just give it your best and try every day to do just 10 more minutes of staying out of bed, walking or any form of exercise. I just tell myself that I can handle most anything except loosing the strength in my legs…so, I keep on walking. Good luck everyone.


Carol says on July 5th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I had Aortic valve replacement 2 years ago in November. This week was a perticulary


Nezzie says on July 6th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for this blog. I had open heart surgery six months ago and you have
really open my mind on what to expect from this surgery.


liz says on October 14th, 2013 at 11:37 am

finally a blog where i can relate to. i’ve had 2 open heart surgeries when i was little and a mitral valve repair after i turned 17. its been almost 8 years now and i still have searing pain in my sternum. ive done test and doctors say everything’s fine but it still comes back when i move a certain way in bed or on the couch. i think im going to try to see if my sternum ever healed properly.

thanks for the info


Arlie Rauch says on October 28th, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’m glad I found this blog. I had mitral valve repair six months ago. I experience little sharp pains sometimes and soreness others. Lately there has been a little bump with some soreness near the top of my sternum. It could be a wire. But this blog has encouraged me. Generally I feel better than I did before the surgery, my breathing is good, and I have pretty good energy and enthusiasm for life if I don’t get stressed. After reading all the above, I will not be too concerned about the little pains. Oh, one other thing: I had a serious pain/ache where the rib cage meets the spine–I think they twisted it out of joint or something during the surgery. A few visits to a good chiropractor has solved that, and it feels so much better. I am enjoying lifting weights again, but am not supposed to twist; I am not up to full strength yet in lifting, but I am getting there. I also go for long brisk walks, and that is good.


Marvin says on November 21st, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Wow right up my ally I had cabg 3 in 2010 every sense I have had sternum pain now they are going to use plating to secure the sternum it is completely separated.
Has any one had this procedure, if so how long ago and how are you doing now doing I’m very apprehensive .

Thank you



Kandyce says on December 5th, 2013 at 10:40 pm

My surgery is not heart related but I had my thymus removed and they had to crack my chest like they would do with heart surgery, I have two wires and a 1×1 inch titanium plate it’s been two years since the surgery and the last 6 months my mobility has been limited my breathing hurts so I guess my question would be is it ok to remove the titanium plate my husband and have been talking and add wondering if it’s safe to do anyone have theirs removed? If so has the pain gotten better or worse


Rebecca says on January 5th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I had mitral and aortic valve replacement due to endocarditis on May 222011.. I still suffer from pain in my sternum n I do feel like indentions but no wires n it’s only when the cold weather comes…I was 30 yrs old n I feel old…then I had back surgery n had metal rods n screws so now u have titanium valves…rods n screws..pained..


Rebecca says on January 5th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I do have wires connecting my chest plate


Eva Thoma says on January 5th, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I am replying to Arlie Rauch. I have a little bump with some soreness near the top of my sternum also. It feels like a calcium deposit, which is not unusual. It hurts when touched, but, otherwise it is okay. I still feel weakness, but, much better than before I had the surgery. I still don’t feel safe driving very often. Once in awhile I will venture out, but, never when I have taken a pain pill.


Jo says on January 7th, 2014 at 9:55 pm

It is awesome to hear from everyone.

Checking to see if anyone else has had these queer spasms after mitrol valve surgery for my 50th birthday. I have often contributed this to my bra altering things a bit/ lot. I also feel (scar tissue) maybe forming under my right arm. It aches, itches, twinges, pulses, hurts concerning me. My husband and son have also been cracked but do not share my problem. Their inherited problems were much worse.

Thanks for blogging!
It is nice to know their are others out there like me doing well also :)


rob says on January 13th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

hi .. i had a triple bypass 3 years ago ,, i was complaining to my doctor that i was so sore in pain still , 6 months , 1 year later i had a ct scan and they found out that i have a ( non union ) bone .,, but i do not understand , it is up and down ,, i come done my sternum 2 inches then it stops ,,then 1/4 inch it starts again going down ,,so my top ribs join my top sternum and my bottom 4 ribs join the bottom sternum ,, and when i move fuk does it hurt .. so when they open you up i sternum must have been in 4 peices i don,t get how that happen ,,if you could jump in my body , you would not last 20 secs you would jump out fast ..


Joe says on February 6th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Hi,I am 3 mo out from triple bypass and I am having pain on the right side of my chest. It bothers me most when I try to lay in bed. Had all the X-rays and they say it could be skeletal. They gave me a stress test and came thru with flying colors,but this pain is there 24/7. Nothing helps with the pain. I wake up in the morn and my chest feels tight.i understand what I went thru and expect some discomfort,but this is unbearable. Could it be from the wires? The des don’t seem to be worried,but they don’t feel the pain..someone help”.”.”………..


Michelle C. says on February 17th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Hi Joe,

I had pain for the first two years when I tried to lay on anything but my back. I think that you will just have to find a position to sleep that works for you.

As far as the pain 24/7, I think it will pass sooner than later. You are only 3 months post op, be patient. :-) You have a lot trauma that has happened in your chest.

Hope that helps a bit.



Karen says on February 17th, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I am 71, female, and had a CABG5 in 2006. I still suffer chest pain and severe sternum and ribcage pain. The first couple of years I was told it would go away and the next couple to ignore it. Now they are talking about “tightening” the wires! I always thought I was an anomaly but now find many have this problem. I meet with the surgeon this Friday and can now ask a few pertinent questions. Thanks for the blogs. It’s good to know you are not the only one suffering.


Wayne Lucas says on March 2nd, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Hi everyone I am 7 weeks out from AVR Mech and today have this soreness on both sides of my szipper about 30mm away from the centre of my chest have I overdone things or is this just muscle and bone bruising I have had some problems with AFIB blood pressure seems to be under control any thoughts? Cheers Wayne


Arlie Rauch says on March 6th, 2014 at 6:08 pm

I had a six-month checkup with the cardiologist yesterday eight months after the last checkup because of a snafu (should have been two months ago). Report was good. I asked her about the bumps that feel like wire knots near the top section of the sternum. They respond with soreness if I press on them. She thought it was nothing to be concerned about. I am aware of them if I wear a tight shirt. Other than that and a little twinge of pain or soreness once in a while–perhaps scar tissue related, I am doing well, even back to lifting weights. I exercise about 45 minutes a day, and that makes me feel good. Toward the end of January almost nine months after the surgery I realized one day that I felt good; I hadn’t felt that way for a long time, maybe a year anyway. Thankful.


Robert bailey says on March 7th, 2014 at 9:05 am

does anyone know the “type” of wire used in closing the ribcage after surgery and who maked it, need to know if I can undergo an extensive MRI screening.


Arlie Rauch says on March 7th, 2014 at 11:31 am

One source I checked said stainless steel. But you should check with your physician to be sure. I don’t know if that is universally true.


Larry says on March 18th, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I don’t have an answer, but I have wires after bypass, and I am having pain and trouble breathing, anyone else w this problem? I am two years out.


Lesa says on March 19th, 2014 at 4:26 am

Hello everyone my name is lesa robinson and im 45 years of age and i had a aortic valve replacement back in 2011and i wonder about the wires myself and i thank you all for the answers cause i was wondering why im uncomfortable at times. I jus thank god im still here!


Wayne Lucas says on March 22nd, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Hi all have had a couple of issues with blacking out in the last week or so I am 2 months in after Aortic Valve replacement mechincal and these events happen with not warning has anyone else experienced this. Cheers Wayne


Arlie Rauch says on March 22nd, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I am ten months after mitral valve repair, and I have not had any issues like that.


Randy says on March 23rd, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I had mitral valve replacement surgery about 10 months ago sometimes my incision is sensitive to the touch. Seems more prominent after I’ve done something very physical as pushing or pulling or lifting. I can touch the incision sometimes and it is almost like a shocking sensation other times nothing. It looks dark red at times but most of the time slightly darker than my skin. Was glad to read some of you alls similarities makes me feel normal.


Sara says on March 23rd, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I had my first aortic valve replacement in 2002 I was 42. 2008 had to go back in had the aortic & micro valves replaced. I had a great surgeon that took excellent care of me but even now when I pick up something heavy the middle of my chest hurts which I believe is scar tissue but just the pain for a heart patient is scary because they always ask at your check ups “Are you expericing any chest pain?” I say yes but not the kind of pain they are talking about. I am a big busted lady & recovery both times were slow but worth it all. Since 2002 I have greeted my 3 grandchildren in to the world & work 40 plus hours a week at a job I have held for 35 years. I still cry every time I hear gospel singing. I don’t know if we cry because we wanted to stay with God & he sent us back or we got another chance at life. Either way I am grateful for my clicking heart!


Arlie Rauch says on March 23rd, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I didn’t know if I’d wake up in Billings, MT, or in heaven after the surgery 10 months ago. But I’m glad to be here still. It allowed me to publish a book about my wife’s ruptured brain aneurysm–that was a saga. My open heart surgery was just a short chapter compared to that. I’m 66 and currently marketing the book. I’m still able to encourage others and praise God every day, even if current events are unsettling at times.


tammy says on March 24th, 2014 at 2:51 am

Larry…I just double bypass a little over a year…my chest hurts real bad.. especially when I cough…roll over in bed…sit up. I think wires are broke or something else is wrong…hurts so bad at times I cry and get scared.


Larry says on March 24th, 2014 at 9:54 am

Do you have trouble breathing, and do you get pain in your shoulder area?


Larry says on March 24th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I have been having chest pain for over one month now, went to the ER, and to my cardiologist, who said, it is nothing wrong with your heart. Today I went to my primary care physician, she gave me Flexeril, thinking it is the chest bone or the wires after open heart. I will post again, if this help me.


John says on March 26th, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I am a year and a half out since my by-pass surgery and I too still have pain. I guess some people do and some don’t have problems. My incision is still very sensitive to touch at times. My chest mussels are still sore and numb. And sometimes the nerves twitch in my chest. I noticed that when I am tired I feel more sore in the incision area and chest mussels, but I guess this is better than the alternative.


eleymay says on April 6th, 2014 at 11:58 am

I am 4 months post op triple bypass and the last week the discomfort in my sternum and rib cage are getting worse I can breath but it hurts to open my rib cage to take a deep breath and jars when I walk. I have contacted the hospital and they are getting me a review with the consultant which I was quite hopeful about, but after reading some of your postings I am terrified I am not prepared to spend the rest of my days in pain.


graham says on April 7th, 2014 at 8:09 am

Hi Everyone,
I had a bovine aortic valve replacement and an aortic root replacement in January and like everyone else have experienced, breathing, sleep, vision, chest pain and various other associated problems.
The fact of the matter is you were meant to die but someone or (being) has deemed fit to save you.
Anyone who continues to moan about there “lot” should remember where they would have been alive now without medical intervention.
No stop bemoaning your lot (those of you which have been doing so) and get on with what is left of your somewhat painful and curtailed lives.
Happy days.


Jerry says on April 25th, 2014 at 11:02 am

This site is just what I needed. I had 3bi-pass this past March 20 and was concerned about the amount of pain I was feeling…until now. The old adage “Misery loves company” fits here. I thank you all for your posts. I’m glad I’m not alone. Be well and thanks to all.


Terri says on June 2nd, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I had open heart surgery (double by-pass) 11 yrs ago. Sub-mammary procedure was done. Have done pretty good through the years with sternum pain and breast sensitivity.
Last week I a started an exercise program with new instructor and assume I did something to cause my whole chest to hurt just like the feeling I was going through with healing from the surgery. Hurts more while sitting than standing. I’m assuming I have inflamed my nerves or scar tissue because my sternum aches, my scar across my chest is sensitive and my breast are also aching. Doesn’t feel like a heart attack but a strain to the chest area. My cardiologist wants to do an ecco stress test but I’m not sure I need that.
What is your opinion?


Arlie Rauch says on June 3rd, 2014 at 9:12 am

Well, i’m no medical professional, and I think you need to defer to them for solid answers. I think your diagnosis is logical, however. I had mitral valve repair just over one year ago, and my surgeon has cleared me for virtually every kind of exercise. I do have some aches and pains now and then, but nothing as powerful as you describe. I guess I would want to be sure that something else isn’t going on. I think like you do that you really don’t want the stress test, but for peace of mind it may be worthwhile. Then again, it may reveal something that you should know. Just thinking out loud here. I pray you’ll do what is wise.


eleymay says on June 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm

What do they actually do when you have a stress test? I think I might have one coming up soon, also an m.r.I.scan. my rib cage is still very uncomfortable, but after reading all the posts on here I realize I am not alone which does help thank you. I am having acupuncture in a couple of weeks time as I have arthritis in my spine and the bypass seems to have made it worse, here’s hoping it works!!!! And graham try and have a little understanding and empathy for the people that are really upset and need support, not made to feel guilty, clearly you do not require us you are very lucky


Bimla Krishna says on June 7th, 2014 at 2:31 am

Hi, I would just like to know your peoples’ feed back in my situation. It’s already being some 6 months of my operation but yet I suffer from severe pains in my operation area. I’m pretty not sure what could be the cause, is it just by operational wounds paining or is there some sort of internal complication. I had a check up with my doctor and he has said that the wire used to tie my bones has not melted, could this be also another reason that I have severe chest pain and my doctor has also said it could be bone infection. I have taken my antibiotics from the starting. Please respond as I would like to know what could the possible cause of the pains still arising in my chest even though is 6 months already.


eleymay says on June 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Hi bimla
I still have pain in my ribs and sternum today is especially bad. I had my triple bypass December 19th. The consultant said I may have to have another operation after 1 year and they will take out the wires which may help, the wires are metal they do not melt and normally they stay in you forever but some people are unlucky and have them removed perhaps this is your problem. It is not a major op and you are normally back home the same day. Hope this helps you


Dale Pfeiffer says on June 10th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Hi Bimia, I had pain in my chest for almost a year (I’m 4-1/2 years post-op now). It’s hard to know, though, how much pain another person is feeling, especially when you’re reading a blog on the internet. Are there particular positions that are more painful than others? The wires may be bothering you, but internal scar tissue may also be causing you pain. The scar tissue will become softer with time, if that’s the culprit. I know it took almost a year for my chest to feel “settled.” I had seemingly random pain there off and on for a year, but I rarely have discomfort there now. I hope this helps.


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