Site/shoulder discomfort

Hi, I got my pacemaker 3days ago. Im 60 and in very active and want to be completely compliant with my discharge instructions. This is a whole new ballgame for me. How long does the pain in the side last? Everything looks fine I just find it very difficult to sleep in any position but on my back and I'm very nervous about doing anything wrong .Do other people feel this way from the very beginning?



by Persephone - 2021-03-11 15:11:43

Hi Regina - it's great to hear that all looks fine after your PM implant.  Yes, discomfort, sleep disruptions, and uncertainty about compliance with discharge instructions are all widely experienced by PM recipients, but you can expect to be feeling better soon.  Take it easy on yourself, let your body heal, and sleep when you can.  LIght activities are fine for now, as you feel able, and remember to gently use your PM-side arm to ensure that your shoulder mobility is maintained.  Keep your confidence that you're doing everything right by adhering to the guidelines you were given.

Those Early Days

by Marybird - 2021-03-11 15:28:25

Hi Regina,

I can't really add anything to the excellent advice given by Persephone, just wanted to mention that I recall for maybe a month after I got my pacemaker ( in June 2019) I wasn't comfortable sleeping in any position except on my back either. I think this came as much from being super paranoid that I would inadvertently flip my left arm up over my head in my sleep and yank out the leads, as for the discomfort from the surgery. I'm not usually a back sleeper, so I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to keep this up, but like you, I didn't want to go against instructions not to lift my arm up over my head and I was afraid I would do that if I slept on either side.

I found extra strength acetominophen ( 500 mg tabsx2) very effective in controlling the pain from the surgery, and at taking extra strength acetominophen PM ( has 50 mg benedryl added) at night before I went to bed did a great job at letting me sleep all night- even on my back. I think I took the acetominophen for maybe 2 to 2.5 weeks after the surgery, didn't need it after that.

Once that month was over, I gingerly started experimenting with sleeping positions to see what would be comfortable, and found sleeping on either my right or left sides very satisfactory.


You'll get there!

How long?

by Gemita - 2021-03-11 15:44:31

Hello Regina,

I agree with both Marybird and Persephone.  

I can remember how difficult it was to sleep in the early days and the fear I had about pulling a lead out or damaging my device by turning over in bed.  I was constantly protecting my device with a cushion/pillow in bed or trying to keep my arm down during the day for fear of doing something to my pacemaker.  We all go through this, but our implants after a few weeks are usually well bedded in and in fact the most important thing we can do is to keep our pacemaker side arm gently moving to prevent a condition known as frozen shoulder from developing.  This would then result in a much much longer period of healing.

How long for healing?  it depends on so many factors like our general health, our age, how easily the implant went in, the position of our implant, how well the wound heals, whether we develop frozen shoulder and so on. It took me a good 6 weeks to start moving normally and to have confidence that no harm would come to my pacemaker.  Your discomfort/pain pacemaker side should ease within a few weeks, but if you need better pain control, do seek advice to make sure that all is well.

I see you are young and active and so I would imagine you will heal quickly.  Rest when you need to rest but move when you feel like moving.  You will be fine.  Good luck and welcome to the world of pacemakers

Pain, directions, sleep

by AgentX86 - 2021-03-11 19:26:04

Everyone is different but the worst of the pain should be over now or, if not, very shortly.  Sleeping can be a problem for a while.  I slept in a recliner for some time.  I'd learned to sleep that way after my CABG.  I slept for several months in a recliner then.

As others have said, follow the instructions you were given but be sure to move that shoulder.  Use if for everything you normally would, except the motions that were proscribed.  It's hard to remember to limit the movement when you're using the arm for everything else but try.  You'll fail and reach for something but it'll be alright.  We all did.  Just do your best.


by Lacuna coil - 2021-03-13 04:03:23

Hey, I'm Geoff.

I had my icd put in 4 months ago, I followed my instructions to the t. However my surgeon said don't use any antibiotic creams or ointments. Keep your shoulder mobile but don't lift your arm past your shoulder or your leads will come out. I was able to lay on my stomach and left side after I visited my cardio surgeon. It takes about 3 months to feel like yourself however it will take a full 6 to be 100% but everybody is different. The main thing is listen to your body.

takes time

by dwelch - 2021-03-17 23:35:10

I am on device number five.  The recovery is in stages.  Sleeping through the night in general can take days to a week or so.  Sleeping on that side or in the position you are used to might be week two or three.  many of us are driving again within a few days.  But washing your hair with both hands might take a while, if you follow the strict instructions, weeks.

Dont get stiff shoulder that hurts for weeks, so dont wear a sling, move the arm about every day, do normal-ish stuff, each day or few days you will see that you can get that elbow a wee bit higher before you find the pain envelope. 

Expect the whole process to be measured in weeks, 3, 4, 5, 6...

Being the first device the site will be senstive possibly forever.  I am almost 34 years into this journey and mine is still senstive.  the car seat belt is my number one enemy, I use a big fuzzy fake sheepskin seatbelt cover.  (my wife and daughters heads are exactly at pacemaker height but we have learned to not hug on that side, as that really hurts).

One day at at time.  a few weeks you may have a checkup/visit,  a few months then 6 months then usually it goes anually, but with the take home boxes and the pandemic the normal annual thing might go away, we will see.



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