Objective Postthoracotomy pain syndrome is generally considered to be neuropathic pain due to intercostal nerve injury. However, nonneuropathic pain can also occur following thoracic surgery. We present a series of cases with postthoracotomy pain syndrome in which myofascial pain was thought to be a causative component of postthoracotomy pain syndrome.
Case Report Twenty-seven patients (17 men and 10 women) were treated with trigger point injections, intercostal nerve blocks, and/or epidural blocks. Clinical criteria were used to diagnose the myofascial pain. A visual analogue scale was used, and sensory disturbances were recorded before and after treatment. A trigger point in a taut muscular band within the scapular region, which we diagnosed as myofascial pain, was observed in 67% of the patients. The existence of this trigger point significantly increased the rate of success for the treatments.
Conclusions Postthoracotomy pain may result, at least in part, from a nonneuropathic origin (myofascial pain). It is recommended that each patient be examined in detail to determine whether there is a trigger point in a taut muscular band within the scapular region. If found, this point is suggested as a good area for anesthetic injection.
- Postthoracotomy pain
- Myofascial pain
- Trigger point injection
- Intercostal nerve block
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Supported in part by the Second Term Comprehensive 10 Year Strategy for Cancer Control of the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare.