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Is it normal to have pain in diaphragm area after having a pneumothorax?

By May 15, 2010 - 5:13pm
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In October I had a pneumothorax on my left side. I ended up having 4 of them total on the same side before having a pleurodesis done. Sometime after the second time it happened I started getting this aching pain on my left side an inch or two below my left breast. It's not constant, but would happen pretty frequently. I had a chest CT before surgery which didn't show anything, but I've always been a little worried about it, and wondering if it could be pain in my diaphragm or something that happens because of a pneumothorax?

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Have you discussed this with your pulmonologist? I'm wondering if this is pleuritic pain, which would not be at all surprising given what you've gone through. We have a pleurisy page: http://www.empowher.com/condition/pleurisy This article is for professionals but not hard to read and has a good rundown of some possible causes of pleuritic pain: http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/556185 The problem with pleuritic pain and pleurisy is sometimes nothing shows on xray. It can be frustrating to walk around with this pain and have no answers.

Your condition may also have irritated a nerve in the area, such as the phrenic nerve (here is a link to an illustration showing the anatomy and where that nerve runs: http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/71/Gray806.png), or it could be chest wall pain or costochondritis http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/costochondritis/DS00626/DSECTION=symptoms We have a nice illustration of this as well: http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/costochondritis

There are several chest pain syndromes that could have been lit up by your issues, and sometimes chest pain that is non-cardiac can take a while to sort out. I would have a talk with the pulmonologist and see if you can get to the bottom of it.

In the meantime, makes notes of what makes the pain worse or better, if anything, when it is most common, whether it is related to the position you are in, do inhaling or exhaling have an effect, type of pain if it isn't always an ache, and how bad it is. Note whether you have other symptoms with it such as difficult breathing, racing or irregular heart beat, that sort of thing.

We have a page on pneumothorax that might help you: http://www.empowher.com/condition/pneumothorax but I suggest discussing this with your pulmonologist, so you can rule out anything that needs treatment. I'm sorry you are still having symptoms after going through so much already.

Good luck. Please let us know the outcome. It will help others.

May 17, 2010 - 6:59am

I just had surgery to correct the pneumothorax and yes I had several X-Rays in the hospital afterwards to make sure it was still fixed.

Before I originally got diagnosed with a pneumothorax they did all the heart tests and they came back negative.

May 16, 2010 - 1:48pm

This is a good question, and will require some more research.

Can you tell us if you have ruled out another recurrence of pneumothorax? You had a CT scan that did not show anything, but have you also talked with your doctor to rule out any heart conditions?

May 16, 2010 - 10:25am
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