Discomfort when sleeping AND weight lifting question

I had my pacemaker put in on March 23 and I still have a lot of discomfort. It has been 5 weeks and I am still having difficulty sleeping because when I roll on my sides the PM digs into my collar bone. Does anyone else have this problem? Its driving me crazy! I also have pain at the site, is that still normarl?
Also, is anyone else out there a weight lifter? I teach a class called Group Power at my gym and I am suppose to start teaching again next week. I am a little concerned about lift (and stretching) the bar over my head. I have already had problems with one of the leads pulling slightly away from my heart muscle. Anyone have any advice?!?!



sleeping/weight lifting

by kyle0816 - 2007-04-25 04:04:13

I only had mine put in on April 13 (a defibrillator) but I have pain in my shoulder/under my armpit, especially if I try to sleep on that shoulder. I hope it's not a long-term thing!!
I lift weights and they told me I could start lifting again at about 5 or 6 week after I had it put in.
How did you know your lead was puling away from your heart??? Can you feel it or can they do some test to tell you that it's pulling away?
Sorry I'm not much help, hope everything ends up ok!

sleeping/weight lifting

by CathrynB - 2007-04-25 05:04:37

Hi Karen. I had my first PM installed 1-24-07, so just passed 3 months. I still can't sleep on my left side or stomach without pain. I don't have routine pain through the day, but certain things still cause me discomfort or mild pain -- lifting anything heavy, the seatbelt when I'm driving, crossing my left arm in front of my chest while holding anything (hair dryer, for example). I'm not clear that this is normal, but my doctor says my skin/tissue over the PM is so thin he's worried about skin erosion. My PM is also very close to my armpit, not my collarbone. My EP said I couldn't lift any weights until 8 weeks post op, and then only lighter weights than I'd been doing before, but lots of repetitions are okay. You should check with your doctor about this, but in any case keep the weights light initially or I predict you'll have increased pain. My shoulder was pretty stiff for a week or so also, after keeping it low for 6 weeks. I'd be extra careful since you already know a lead has pulled away somewhat. You don't want to have to start over again with another surgery.
I hope things are going well for you otherwise, and keep us posted on your progress. Take care, Cathryn

Pacemaker and weight lifting

by johng - 2007-04-25 06:04:30

I would suggest you talk to your cardiologist before lifting any weights above your head.
The longer you wait before exercising will allow the leads to be more firmly fixed in the scar tissue.
There is an additional risk of damaging one of the leads by trapping it between the clavicle(collarbone) and the top rib, when you are pressing weights above your chest.
If you have discussed this with your doctor, before surgery, the leads may have been fitted in a safe position. It is important to give your body time to heal, before putting it under strain.
Take care,


by tcrabtree85 - 2007-04-25 06:04:55

Hi Karen,
I had my pm put in on March 15th. I still feel all the same pain that you are talking about. Your site is going to hurt some b/c it is healing. I agree with Cathryn you shouldn't start back to lifting until you consult with your doctor. I think that 8 weeks is a lot better choice especially if you have had some trouble already with the leads moving a little. I know that the pain isn't fun but it will get better over time. I sleep a lot on my right side because otherwise that pm likes to poke me also. I don't know if that will ever go away but probably something that over time you will just get use to. I will keep you in my thoughts and wish you the best luck. Take care of yourself.


by boatman50 - 2007-04-25 08:04:50

Karen, it has been almost 11 months now and I hardly know I have the pm. It did take some time before I got to this, I would say maybe 4-5 months. I also lift, after getting the docs o/k and also asked for advice from others pacer club members. One person said to start l;ifting light, careful on the overhead lifts. I did that and did not stretch my arms to the full extent for some time. Now no problems! I had also heard about pinching the leads at the clavicle and asked my doc about it. He said mine are not in any danger as they are routed in a safe way. To all of you just start slow and in time you will be better then before and this will be a memory!

me to

by rosep - 2007-04-27 11:04:17

Hi karen,
I had my pm fitted on 7/3 and had my 6 week check last week -so far, so good. I am keen to get back to gym and play tennis but was advised to take things gently and no wide range movements to left side. This is to further let wires settle into scar tissue and stay in place - I have to go back in 6 weeks to have pm regulated for exercise. I can't sleep on my side yet, not painful but uncomfortable if I try, even on right side- - very frustrating as I have always been a left sided sleeper. I still get pulling under my collar bone and and this happens most if I move my body position after being still for a while- again more uncomfortable than painful and it is getting less noticeable with time. I would say be patient - I have got used to the fact that being totally unaware of my pm is going to take months rather than weeks, but I can live with that!!! Good luck on your return to work.Rose p

Try a pillow?

by valbob89 - 2007-04-30 03:04:57


I had trouble sleeping on my right side (pacemaker on left) so I got a firm pillow to wrap my left arm over. It supports my shoulder so I didn't get pressure on the wound. I got over it in a couple of weeks. The thing about putting your arms up is that it can pull the skin, muscle and pacemaker to the left (if implanted in the left). The wires get scarlike tissue growth over them that helps hold them in place in the arteries, as well as at the leads inside the heart where they're attached. If the doc told you 8 weeks (what seems to be normal advice) and you're a lifting instructor, you perhaps should wait longer because of the range of motion you probably have. Work into it slowly being conscious of the sensation of change in pulse.

Alternative: Have the doc/tech put you on a monitor (the leads that the pacemaker computer use should probably do) and ask the doctor to control you through a range-of-motion test. She'll see any problems if the lead is pulling. I have no idea whether it results in pain, because I didn't have a problem with it. I resumed a light (by your standards) workout about 8 weeks after implant without problems. Didn't even consider yoga, tho.

Best wishes.


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