Armpit irritation

Hi, any advice on what to do with armpit pain?

I had my second pacer inserted 2 years ago and as typical got a properly frozen shoulder also second time around.  I've managed to recover from it with several months of exercise and physio, but I have a terrible pinching sensation in the armpit and it does not go. Some of the mobility is still reduced. I've been given all clear by the doctors, apparently clinically it's perfectly positioned, but I notice it is much closer to side and actually pushes into my armpit when I sleep, which likely results the pinching sensations the day after. Like an inner bruising or alike. Any thoughts? It's a decade till next change, and I don't really want to risk surgery earlier, but in my 40s and active lifestyle, this is bloody annoying. I'm even scared to do a routine mammogram now when just sleeping causes this much trouble on that side.

Doctors seem at loss and physios don't dare to touch. 


Armpit irritation

by Gemita - 2021-12-07 06:21:30


Armpit pain or sensations can be very worrying for infection or something more sinister as I well know.  In your case, are you really sure this is coming from your pacemaker, or from any nerve impingement related to your device?  I think you need to rule everything else out first before you go down the pacemaker route.  If it is clearly related to your pacemaker and it is impacting on your quality of life, my feeling is that you should discuss having it repositioned. 

Please do not put off having a mammogram.  With your symptoms, this could at least rule out breast involvement.

Have you had this pinching sensation since your pacemaker was implanted, or has it been a more recent development?  Have you spoken to your orthopaedic team you were under for frozen shoulder and asked whether your armpit sensations could in any way be related?  I attach a link which might be helpful.

I hope this is resolved quickly for you



by Tracey_E - 2021-12-07 10:49:04

That sounds more like from the frozen shoulder than the pacer. Have you tried a chiropractor? 

I second Gemita's advice to get a mammogram to make sure nothing else is going on. 


by Katja3 - 2021-12-07 11:54:22

The discomfort started few days after the operation, so it's been there 2 years now.

It goes away if I sleep on right side (=no pressure on pm), but as soon as I lean on left, the next day pinching sensations return.

I can literally feel the apparatus pushing to the flank in front of armpit, and that's where it pinches each time. If I sleep all night on left, the place gets warm, like minor inflammation. Thus I know it's just mechanical irritation. In all checks it is apparently totally normal and of no concern whatsoever. 

Sensations have not changed in 2 years, it has not travelled or worsened. It's just there... annoying pinchy feeling 

I went to chiro for frozen shoulder, but it didn't do a great difference to this problem. I have now full use of arm, but to sleep with arm above my head still feels way too tight. It may be to do with that, but I don't really get how I can stretch that, as I only feel it when lying down 

And just to be sure, no lumps, no heightened risks, all glands the same normal feeling. this is not cancer scare. But as it keeps on reacting at night, I really don't want to aggravate the part by squeezing my twins into wine press.

Armpit pain

by Gemita - 2021-12-07 13:11:04


Okay you have convinced me this is likely device/lead irritation, since you do not get the problem when sleeping on your right side. I presume your preferred sleeping position is on the left, otherwise it would be an easy fix.  

The way I see it is that you have two choices.  

1.  Talk to your doctors about the possibility of getting the device repositioned, away from your armpit so you can comfortably sleep on your left side.  I see that you had a problem with one of your leads malfunctioning a couple of years ago and had to have it replaced.  Have you had any imaging - chest X-ray or scans to see the position of the lead(s) and to see whether one or several leads could be causing your discomfort rather than the device itself?  Sometimes the leads can traumatise our veins and perhaps this is causing the pinching sensation.

2.  Leave well alone and sleep on your right side only or experiment with pillows sleeping on the left side until you can get comfortable. without triggering the pinching sensation the following day. 

My device is placed close to my armpit too and it can be uncomfortable to sleep on the left or to carry out certain activities.  I think many of us have this problem. I am getting some left armpit pain but not so certain that it is coming from my device or leads alone and have just requested a mammogram since I haven’t had one since 2017.  With pillow support I can usually get comfortable though at night sleeping on the left.  I would certainly still recommend that you get a mammogram at some stage, especially if one is due, although I hate them too.  

I found an old Pacemaker Club post on "pinching" and attach it.  Cardiologists know it happens.  Not sure what can be done about it but you are definitely not alone.


by Katja3 - 2021-12-07 15:20:51

Thanks for the input.

It's not fun to get old, but certainly I can laugh about it.  I'll reside to right sleeping for now, I really don't fancy other surgery with frozen shoulder, so it is what it is. They said they put the pm into the old pocket, but then needed to enter vein from minimum 3cm distance from the previous lead entry point. Apparently they choose best angle to coil leads nicely, on either side, where it fits best.  My third lead entry is about 3.5cm to shoulder side from original point, so that's possibly what's pressing on some nerve. Anycase, this second pm is smaller and thinner, and I can actually wear any bra I want, without straps carving into it, so it's I'm happy about that. Can't have it all when you're wired I suppose.





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