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Post Op issues following clavicle surgery


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Old 03-08-2012, 01:26 PM   #1
tellmem3
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Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Hello group,

I am a 32 year old male. About 10 months ago, I broke my right clavicle during a hard fall at a team building event at work, pretty embarrassing actually. Left the bone convoluted in multiple pieces fairly badly which resulted in surgery to repair. Had surgery and had a plate installed with 12 screws. Since then, things have healed back and the plate is holding strong.

I still have a lot of nerve pain including numbness, BURNING, tingling and TIGHTNESS up and down my shoulder where the incision was made and goes as far down as my elbow and up my neck making it hard to turn my neck in certain directions. I try not to wear shirts when I can because the rubbing from the fabric really gets painful. Since this was a workmas comp case, getting consent care between the doctors has been a challenge and they repeatedly close my case out and have to reopen it every time I see the doctors. Sorry for the off topic additional info with workmans comp (they are horrible to deal with).

So I asking if anyone has had similar issues with plates and collar bones causing this type of complication? I was told by the surgeon the plate will most likely need to me removed but he wanted to wait for any additional healing to take place (up to a year and a half) I am also afraid if they go back in to remove it, will it possibly cause more pain over before.

Thanks for your advise!

Chris

 
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:12 PM   #2
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

I am 6 mos. post - clavicle surgery. constant pain and numbness but with some improvement. have been told it can take 2 years for resolution.

 
Old 11-26-2012, 12:55 PM   #3
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonblue View Post
I am 6 mos. post - clavicle surgery. constant pain and numbness but with some improvement. have been told it can take 2 years for resolution.

Good to know. Thanks for your response. To update, it turns out the plate itself had somehow got tangled around some nerve roots and muscle that was causing the extreme symptoms I had stated above. I had another surgery to have the plate removed and I am about a month post op from that. I still can't tell if the pain is any better overall, but I am still in quite a lot of pain.... Some days are manageable while others are absolutely horrible. I have a EMS unit to send stimulation to the area of pain with hopes these nerves will die down.


Thanks,

Chris

 
Old 11-26-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by tellmem3 View Post
Good to know. Thanks for your response. To update, it turns out the plate itself had somehow got tangled around some nerve roots and muscle that was causing the extreme symptoms I had stated above. I had another surgery to have the plate removed and I am about a month post op from that. I still can't tell if the pain is any better overall, but I am still in quite a lot of pain.... Some days are manageable while others are absolutely horrible. I have a EMS unit to send stimulation to the area of pain with hopes these nerves will die down.


Thanks,

Chris
Best of luck. I am now over a year-in with basically the same issues. I was recently told that what I have will not get better. Basically the neurologist believes its a neuroma - on which an operation has approximately a 15% chance of removing the pain. The % was low because he wasn't sure he could locate the problem nerve/nerves and even if he did - operating on a neuroma is not necessarily a guaranteed fix. Obviously not the diagnosis I was looking for.
I have contemplated having the plate removed to see if it would make a difference...but wasn't sure it was worth the risk of another operation.
If not a problem, I would be very grateful if I could check back in with you in a few months to see how things are coming along. My sincerest best wishes for a recovery to something close to normal. I know this thing has been an awful experience for me that I wouldn't wish on anyone....
Just curious - how did they actually determine that the plate had gotten tangled around nerve roots and muscle? Was that a theory that was confirmed via the operation or was there some sort of imaging or test that was done prior to the operation that id'd this problem?
The neurologist I have been working with seemed dubious about his ability to actually figure out specifically what was causing the problem - never mind successfully operating on it.

 
Old 11-27-2012, 02:23 PM   #5
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonblue View Post
Best of luck. I am now over a year-in with basically the same issues. I was recently told that what I have will not get better. Basically the neurologist believes its a neuroma - on which an operation has approximately a 15% chance of removing the pain. The % was low because he wasn't sure he could locate the problem nerve/nerves and even if he did - operating on a neuroma is not necessarily a guaranteed fix. Obviously not the diagnosis I was looking for.
I have contemplated having the plate removed to see if it would make a difference...but wasn't sure it was worth the risk of another operation.
If not a problem, I would be very grateful if I could check back in with you in a few months to see how things are coming along. My sincerest best wishes for a recovery to something close to normal. I know this thing has been an awful experience for me that I wouldn't wish on anyone....
Just curious - how did they actually determine that the plate had gotten tangled around nerve roots and muscle? Was that a theory that was confirmed via the operation or was there some sort of imaging or test that was done prior to the operation that id'd this problem?
The neurologist I have been working with seemed dubious about his ability to actually figure out specifically what was causing the problem - never mind successfully operating on it.
Wow, very interesting news for you also and thank you for sharing that. Also thanks for the encouragement and I also wish the best with your outcome. I am quite happy I can talk with another person like you that has the identical symptoms as it makes it easier to understand and cope with. The neurologist at the pain management clinic seemed to agree there is also an underlying condition such as neuroma as you had mentioned. The funny part is, this condition seems to have a mind of its own. As mentioned, I can manage it sometimes and other times, it's so bad I can't even function. In addition to using the EMS unit, I also had been taking medication (muscle relaxer and Tranadol ER) at night when I go to bed and also using a transdermal pain cream that a compounding pharmacy had to make. Even if they could operate on this to relieve the pain, I am so hesitant to go under the knife again and I have noticed more scar tissue this time and just like you said, it might not be a guaranteed fix......A though balance on which choice might outweigh the other. I am receiving continuing care since this is a workmanís comp claim which is good for some way because I am not paying anything.

To answer your question about determining that the plate had gotten tangled around nerve roots and muscle. I had gotten neuropathy symptoms that ran all the way down my arm into my hand that included muscle weakness shown from a recent EMG test where they send electrical singles to the muscles and measure the amplitude response back. It was shown that there was nerve entrapment. I also had an MRI but that proved to not show much and that's why there was so many confusing factors. If you have pain and numbness in your arm OR extreme pains that seem unusual with the collar bone pain area, I would recommend to have the EMG to make sure as nerves can be damaged permanently if the hardware continues to crush the nerve fibers as I was told from the doctors. I ended up collapsing from the pain in the doctorís office and that led to them pushing the surgery very quickly to have the plate removed.
Please contact me anytime and please keep me posted on your progress as I would like to know how you are doing with your condition. I will absolutely keep you in the loop on my progress. Thank you again for sharing your story and interest. Not "many" people understand chronic pain and can ruin a personís life and I appreciate the conversation.

My sincerest best wishes to you also for a solid road to recovery to put your life back to normal.

Chris

 
Old 11-27-2012, 09:02 PM   #6
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Thanks for the message...definitely, best of luck. these neuropathy conditions are no joke - and make you realize that your health is your wealth.
the numbness/pain I had stops at my upper bicep. Luckily, it didn't run down to my hand. I never experienced weakness from the nerve injury (although my arm was definitely weaker for quite awhile due to injuring my shoulder in the same accident that broke my collarbone)
Early on they determined that an EMG wouldn't be useful since the basic strength of my arm/ grip didn't appear to be impacted.
I also had an MRI on the area - partly to review my shoulder and rotator cuff which were injured. That didn't come back with any real info re: the neuropathy. however, the metal of the plate apparently would throw off the imaging - so it wasn't useful.

as for managing the pain I have tried several things. The TENS unit, lidocaine patches, gabapentin, lyrica, capcacin cream. similar to your description - for me its a constantly changing pain and discomfort..for a good stretch I was using lidocaine patches and they did seem to help. Particularly because clothing rubbing up against the area aggravates the condition. So covering it with a Lidocaine patch both numbed the area and also blocked clothing from making direct contact with the skin. however, I have gone on and off those patches because at times they seem to cause more symptoms. I had been using gabapentin for almost a year but just recently swithched to lyrica. it seems to be more effective. Although, I hate taking these medications - in my opinion they are effective at making the condition more tolerable. the tens unit was a change of pace - and at least provided a different type of fealing than pure pain/discomfort but ultimately it wasn't for me. the capcacin cream didn't do much for me....I may rotate back on to these options again to see if I respond differently.

the other strange thing about my particular deal is that the pain and discomfort is less severe when reclined and mostly goes away if I am lying flat on my back. If I stand up it immediately intensifies. Additionally, as the day goes on - it does get worse. The numbness is constant regardless of what position I am in.
Do you have any change in symptoms based on whether you are standing/ sitting, etc?

As I mentioned before, clothing aggravates the condition. However, I have found that instead of a lidocaine patch - a tighter fitting t-shirt underneath an outer shirt works better than something looser fitting.

Anyhow, long note - just thought I would pass this info along in the event that it was useful.

Again - best of luck on managing through this and getting back to normal. And like you, it's good to know that there is someone to bounce things off regarding these peculiar but very challenging set of symptoms we are dealing with.

 
Old 05-23-2013, 04:02 PM   #7
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Hey there,

I am currently 3 months post clavicle surgery and am experiencing much of the issues that you all describe. I figure I am quite early along in the healing process and just need to give it more time, but your posts kind of worry me!

How are you all doing now? Did the plate removal do you any good? I plan to have the plate removed as soon as my surgeon says it is okay because I truly feel that it is causing all of the issues now. The shoulder feels good and stable and I am able to do my everyday activities with the arm, but I have extreme sensitivity over the incision which gets irritated by even light clothing and I also get an odd sensation in my shoulder when drinking hot or cold liquids. I also get a lot of relief when I lay down.

I know that nerves take time to heal and I need to be patient but I am very curious as to whether the hardware removal did the trick. I am hoping that is all it is and I will have relief once it is taken out. I guess it is worth mentioning that I had a malunited clavicle for 3 years and had it repaired because it was causing pain and weakness from the shortened shoulder. I am going for a CT scan tomorrow so hopefully that will help my surgeon diagnose what is going on with me. We had decided that the hardware was going to come out before I even had the operation because I am so skinny, so that is happening either way since it is quite prominent and bothersome.

Thanks for your insight. I hope you are both doing much better by now.

Regards,

B

 
Old 07-04-2013, 04:55 AM   #8
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

I am having similar symptoms 8 weeks post op after getting plated. I felt great 2 weeks ago, almost normal. Then things went downhill really fast. I cry when I wake up because the pain is so bad. Doc said it is just overuse of muscles, but last two days I wore sling and took muscle relaxers and I feel no better. Muscles heal fast so I think its a pinched nerve, which led me to find this forum. I'm sorry for all your pain.

 
Old 07-05-2013, 09:05 AM   #9
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradhere View Post
Hey there,

I am currently 3 months post clavicle surgery and am experiencing much of the issues that you all describe. I figure I am quite early along in the healing process and just need to give it more time, but your posts kind of worry me!

How are you all doing now? Did the plate removal do you any good? I plan to have the plate removed as soon as my surgeon says it is okay because I truly feel that it is causing all of the issues now. The shoulder feels good and stable and I am able to do my everyday activities with the arm, but I have extreme sensitivity over the incision which gets irritated by even light clothing and I also get an odd sensation in my shoulder when drinking hot or cold liquids. I also get a lot of relief when I lay down.

I know that nerves take time to heal and I need to be patient but I am very curious as to whether the hardware removal did the trick. I am hoping that is all it is and I will have relief once it is taken out. I guess it is worth mentioning that I had a malunited clavicle for 3 years and had it repaired because it was causing pain and weakness from the shortened shoulder. I am going for a CT scan tomorrow so hopefully that will help my surgeon diagnose what is going on with me. We had decided that the hardware was going to come out before I even had the operation because I am so skinny, so that is happening either way since it is quite prominent and bothersome.

Thanks for your insight. I hope you are both doing much better by now.

Regards,

B
Hello Bradhere-
Not great news on my front. Still dealing with pain daily. The symptoms may be slightly better than they were in November. I was taking nerve pain medication and applying lidocaine patches but I didn't care for the side effects of the medication. I stopped both in early 2013 and ultimately found that I was no worse off for it.

I may go see another neurological specialist at some point. Currently, I am still hesitant to have the plate removed as the idea of having another surgery, incision in an area that is already in pain doesn't appeal to me.

I would be very much interested to hear how your situation comes along and whether removing the plate provides any relief.

Best of luck!

 
Old 07-08-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonblue View Post
Hello Bradhere-
Not great news on my front. Still dealing with pain daily. The symptoms may be slightly better than they were in November. I was taking nerve pain medication and applying lidocaine patches but I didn't care for the side effects of the medication. I stopped both in early 2013 and ultimately found that I was no worse off for it.

I may go see another neurological specialist at some point. Currently, I am still hesitant to have the plate removed as the idea of having another surgery, incision in an area that is already in pain doesn't appeal to me.

I would be very much interested to hear how your situation comes along and whether removing the plate provides any relief.

Best of luck!
Hi oregonblue,

Thanks for your reply. I am now about 4 months post op and I do notice improvements. My surgeon has advised me that since I had a delayed malunion repair (surgery 3.5 years after the accident) it will take longer to recover. He says 6-12 months would be an appropriate time frame. Although the hardware does still bother me and my shoulder feels stiff, I notice small improvements and the pain kind of comes and goes. I am optimistic that there is a light somewhere...

I wish you all the best and hope you get the treatment you need. I would not wish this injury upon my worst enemy.

-Brad

 
Old 07-12-2013, 01:28 PM   #11
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Hey all,

I am still alive. I am over 2 years post op and I have not had much improvement which has put me in a state of depression, so I have my good days and bad days and I apologize for not responding sooner. The pain and numbness has managed to now travel up my neck all the way to the top of my right ear and right side of face, as well as down my arm like it has been. Workman's comp has close my case out (end of life at 2 years for treatment), so now I am having my primary insurance take over for continued treatment. But it looks like we are all in the same boat here? Like what were our choices ? Live without surgery and having the shoulder deformed and needing surgery down the road or fix it or getting surgery done right after the injury. I thought the faster the better for recovery.

I am happy to still see you again on here oregonblue and I see your comments too Brad and triblogcarol and you are in my thoughts.

I am very hopeful things will improve but it looks slim for me. I want to hear more about everybody's progress? I am taking two nerve pain meds along with a muscle relaxer daily. I have noticed stress makes things MUCH worse so I have to remember it can be always worse. Having a support network with people like you seems to help, so I hope we can all keep in touch and help each other here.

 
Old 07-12-2013, 01:53 PM   #12
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by tellmem3 View Post
Hey all,

I am still alive. I am over 2 years post op and I have not had much improvement which has put me in a state of depression, so I have my good days and bad days and I apologize for not responding sooner. The pain and numbness has managed to now travel up my neck all the way to the top of my right ear and right side of face, as well as down my arm like it has been. Workman's comp has close my case out (end of life at 2 years for treatment), so now I am having my primary insurance take over for continued treatment. But it looks like we are all in the same boat here? Like what were our choices ? Live without surgery and having the shoulder deformed and needing surgery down the road or fix it or getting surgery done right after the injury. I thought the faster the better for recovery.

I am happy to still see you again on here oregonblue and I see your comments too Brad and triblogcarol and you are in my thoughts.

I am very hopeful things will improve but it looks slim for me. I want to hear more about everybody's progress? I am taking two nerve pain meds along with a muscle relaxer daily. I have noticed stress makes things MUCH worse so I have to remember it can be always worse. Having a support network with people like you seems to help, so I hope we can all keep in touch and help each other here.
tellmem3, it is great to hear back from you. I thought I would report in to let everyone know I am at 4.5 months post op and have made a sudden major leap of improvement. The burning feeling continues to get better and I find that regular exercise helps immensely. I am now working out with 35 pound dumbbells as opposed to the 15 I started out with a month ago. It is eerie how the progress has come out of nowhere. I felt like I was in hell for a good 3 months...

If there is any recommendation I can make it is to get out there and start exercising. It has made the biggest difference in my recovery. I slowly migrated my physio routine into a regular gym routine.

This is not to say I am 100%. I still have muscle soreness and cramps in the area but I am being patient with it all. Anyway, I figured I would just throw some light into the thread if anyone is reading this and recently had clavicle surgery. Give it time.

Last edited by bradhere; 07-12-2013 at 01:58 PM.

 
Old 08-16-2013, 02:15 PM   #13
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Hello everyone,
I'm in the same boat as most of you here.
13 months postop, plate and screws on my clavicle. Daily I have pain in my neck (mostly around the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the back part (occipital) of the head) also trapezoid pain and between the shoulder blades (scapula area). I also have muscle soreness around the shoulder and rotator cuff area.
I'd like to share what aggravates and what makes the pain more bearable.

What helps:
-Tens unit, alternate between pads on traps near the neck and pads on neck and inner shoulder blade area.
-Heat, Keeping the muscles hot def helps. Hot shower, heating pad, even while exercising I find that I am in less pain than just standing or sitting still.
-ICE
- Laying flat on my back, stretching thoracic spine (use tennis ball massage and foam roller)
-Strengthening mid and lower trap, rear delts, neck. (doing variations of prone cobra moves)
-Massages- specially trigger point massage
-Compression shirts, specially the intelliskin or alignmed ( both help with the scapula pain but not the neck)


What aggravates the pain:
-Sitting, def more comfortable while standing
-Bad posture (head forward, slouched shoulders)
-Chest exercises (When the chest is tight it pulls on other weaker muscles and causes more pain)

I've seen a myriad of doctors but have not found or fixed the problem. Although I'm not looking forward to it, I think taking out the plate is an option I have to try. I just wish I could be more sure that it will resolve the problems. Like you guys I'm positive but wow is it hard and frustrating some days.
I've had xrays and nerve tests done, the pain specialist I am seeing said the nerve tests showed I had carpal tunnel not on my wrist ( the nerve runs from the neck down).

I've had two nerve blocks which made me feel 100% for about 2 weeks. I'm currently prescribed Muscle relaxers, tramadol(causes nausea) and trying to get lidocaine patches.

This injury has wrecked my quality of life, makes working much harder (sitting infront of a computer), even going to the movies is a pain (usually take a muscle relaxer, put on a couple of salon pas patches and a compression shirt).

I'm sorry this post is rushed, it's friday, trying to finish work and had one of those moments of pain were I had to research more and found this thread.
Hopefully some of this info helps some of you guys and def if anyone had the plate removed please let us know if it helped at all.

thanks in advance for any news, help or info.

 
Old 09-17-2013, 12:38 PM   #14
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by turborob082 View Post
Hello everyone,
I'm in the same boat as most of you here.
13 months postop, plate and screws on my clavicle. Daily I have pain in my neck (mostly around the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the back part (occipital) of the head) also trapezoid pain and between the shoulder blades (scapula area). I also have muscle soreness around the shoulder and rotator cuff area.
I'd like to share what aggravates and what makes the pain more bearable.

What helps:
-Tens unit, alternate between pads on traps near the neck and pads on neck and inner shoulder blade area.
-Heat, Keeping the muscles hot def helps. Hot shower, heating pad, even while exercising I find that I am in less pain than just standing or sitting still.
-ICE
- Laying flat on my back, stretching thoracic spine (use tennis ball massage and foam roller)
-Strengthening mid and lower trap, rear delts, neck. (doing variations of prone cobra moves)
-Massages- specially trigger point massage
-Compression shirts, specially the intelliskin or alignmed ( both help with the scapula pain but not the neck)


What aggravates the pain:
-Sitting, def more comfortable while standing
-Bad posture (head forward, slouched shoulders)
-Chest exercises (When the chest is tight it pulls on other weaker muscles and causes more pain)

I've seen a myriad of doctors but have not found or fixed the problem. Although I'm not looking forward to it, I think taking out the plate is an option I have to try. I just wish I could be more sure that it will resolve the problems. Like you guys I'm positive but wow is it hard and frustrating some days.
I've had xrays and nerve tests done, the pain specialist I am seeing said the nerve tests showed I had carpal tunnel not on my wrist ( the nerve runs from the neck down).

I've had two nerve blocks which made me feel 100% for about 2 weeks. I'm currently prescribed Muscle relaxers, tramadol(causes nausea) and trying to get lidocaine patches.

This injury has wrecked my quality of life, makes working much harder (sitting infront of a computer), even going to the movies is a pain (usually take a muscle relaxer, put on a couple of salon pas patches and a compression shirt).

I'm sorry this post is rushed, it's friday, trying to finish work and had one of those moments of pain were I had to research more and found this thread.
Hopefully some of this info helps some of you guys and def if anyone had the plate removed please let us know if it helped at all.

thanks in advance for any news, help or info.
Hi there Turbo,

I experience some of the symptoms that you mention from time to time. I am at 6.5 months post op and plan to take all of the hardware out once my doctor says it is okay.

I truly think you need to try removing the hardware if you are being bothered this much. I have read a lot about the procedure and everyone claims it is a "walk in the park" compared to putting the plate in.

It is very possible that the plate and screws are aggravating nerves. I believe this is the case for me at times and I cannot wait to remove it. Even though it gives me a hard time every so often, I just try to ignore it and go on living my life. I do not take any pain killers (other than the odd shot of vodka), and I work out 5 days a week. I find that building up strong back and shoulder muscles really helps a lot. I also found that working the chest too hard can cause issues. I try to limit my chest exercises most of the time. A warm up of 60 push ups before my other exercises is usually good enough just to help define the chest and not make it bigger.

 
Old 09-17-2013, 01:33 PM   #15
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Re: Post Op issues following clavicle surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradhere View Post
Hi there Turbo,

I experience some of the symptoms that you mention from time to time. I am at 6.5 months post op and plan to take all of the hardware out once my doctor says it is okay.

I truly think you need to try removing the hardware if you are being bothered this much. I have read a lot about the procedure and everyone claims it is a "walk in the park" compared to putting the plate in.

It is very possible that the plate and screws are aggravating nerves. I believe this is the case for me at times and I cannot wait to remove it. Even though it gives me a hard time every so often, I just try to ignore it and go on living my life. I do not take any pain killers (other than the odd shot of vodka), and I work out 5 days a week. I find that building up strong back and shoulder muscles really helps a lot. I also found that working the chest too hard can cause issues. I try to limit my chest exercises most of the time. A warm up of 60 push ups before my other exercises is usually good enough just to help define the chest and not make it bigger.

Thanks for the advice bradhere.
My PT and doctor think and diagnosed me with thoracic outlet syndrome.
The bone healed with a large callus underneath which is most likely putting pressure on the brachial plexus, arteries... My first rib is also elevated on the same side ( guessing from tight muscles) which makes things worse.
I'm seeing a thoracic/vascular surgeon next if TOS is confirmed then hopefully I can have the plate removed at the same time they shave or do whatever they need to do to relieve the pressure that the clavicle is causing.
Such is life! At least now I am more sure of what the problem is which is good.
Can't wait until this is over! wish me luck!

 
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