back pain and numbness after masectomy

I had a masectomy and lymph node clearance in mid March 2008 and now my chest feels like it has a heavy weight attached to it especially when I go out for a walk or do gardening. Also my whole upper arm feels like a heavy log and I get numbness and tingling/ burning right round under my arm to the middle of my back. My oncologist seems to think that it is just the result of the operation and the nerves re growing but I am abit worried. has anyone else had the same thing? I would be most grateful for any comments. Does it get better?
Thanks Rachel

Hi Rachel

Yes its all normal. I had a mastectomy in March and had backache for weeks, very stiff and felt like a lead weight was under my arm. Gradually it went. The exercises really really help. I still do then three times a day. I had remainder of lymph nodes out on 10/5 and apart from some soreness on outer arm have no other symptoms. I only had fluid build up in the week after. Now nothing! And told I wont need it draining any more. They seem to think the exercises are the key.

Hope this helps.

Hi Rachel

Without wishing to make you think it’s going to go on forever lol - I had mastectomy and full axillary clearance last Nov - and I still have numbness/tingling around scar and underarm, across into my back. Onc says, as yours, that this is normal following the op. It is easing off a bit now but I am still aware of it most days.

Like Starfish, I still do the exercises (though not as regularly as I should!) - they do help.

Margaret x

Hi Rachel - I have the same after Mast - but it is easing every week - some days worse than others. I’ve found gentle massge of aloe vera on scar and around the area helps - as it starts to helps the nerve endings (2 yrs ago i snmashed my wrist and had the same problem with burning & numbness all over the hand I can say that has now completely gone.) So there is hope Just keep up the excercises they are so important.


Hi all I am going in for a mastectomy and total lymph node removal tomorrow - so will bookmark this thread and keep in touch,

Take care all and thanks for the info - it means that you are at least aware of the possibilities!

Kind regards



I had mastectomy and recon beginning of March and I feel as though there is an alien attached to my front and very very tight (especially after my chemo) round my front and back. When I went back for a post op appointment I told the surgeon - he wasn’t unduly concerned and told me it can take upto a year to stretch and feel normal.
At the minute I am also very numb round my op area.


Thanks everybody for your comments it has helped put my mind at rest. To Pam, if you are home from hospital, I hope your op went well and you are feeling better every day love Rachel

Hi Rachel and all

Back from hospital - was only in 4 days - drain for breast came out day 2 and I dislodged drain for nodes day 3 so they took this out. I have to say that the pain under my arm and around the back and shoulder is excrutiating (don’t know if that’s how yoju spell it - but you will all know what I mean!!!). Got some codine phosphate 30 mg from doc - does help a little - but still very painful. Doing my exercises daily - and they do help. Got the fantastic news yesterday thagt of the 18 nodes that were taken out NOT ONE OF THEM WAS INFECTED. So off to see onc next week I hope and get the treatment started - the sooner itr starts - the sooner it will finish. Seems a bit unfair to have to go through chemo, rads and drugs when the cancer hadn’t spread from the breast - but better safe than not - so I’ll go through the treatment - but with the knowledge that it hadn’t spread - thank ‘whoever’. Take care all.



Hi Rachel i also get an ache from under my arm to the middle of my back and often in my shoulder too. I have been to my GP who said it was muscle pain or a trapped nerve and she prescribed me Diclofenac but that dosnt really help either. I mentioned it to my OC and she said it is muscle pain from the operation as it dosnt seem likely to be anything else as i had a clear bone scan before my op on 2nd April but if it gets worse to get it checked again.
I had been wondering if there was anybody else who had been having similar problems.


Hi Ladies count me in…

I have a pain around my right rib area right near to where mastectomy and lymph nodes taken and my onc said its normal and possibly nerve damage or sensations coming back…yeah great like he doesn’t have to live with it. I am also on diclofenac for a fracture in vertebrae but doesn’t make a huge difference to any uncomfortable feelings I have. I also get a pain right in the crease of where my shoulder blade is. It comes and goes but boy it can hurt. Will wait and see how it goes…

Paula xx

To Pam congraulations on your lymph node result, mine was clear as well but i’m still having chemo and radiotherapy. Let me know how you get on. I am due to have dose number 4 of 6 chemos on friday and it hasn’t been that bad so far.


Hi Lorraine

I have come to this thread from another as you said you had posted your problem on this one. Mhy BCN said that the tingling and numbness was as a result of the messing with the nreve endings and she has prescribed (through my GP) GABAPENTIN, It is usually given to epilectic patients in large doses - but I have to say that after a settling in period ( I took 1st tablet Tues last wk, then 2 wed and 3 - full dose on Thurs) I am just today feeling such a relief from the pain - it is so debilitating! The gaba… made me very sleepy for a couple of hours during the day - which isn’t me - and I have an infection as well - only started the antibiotics Fri - so it may be a combination of the both - I spoke to ONC last week and she said that gab…was really good for this type of pain.

Rachel - thanks for your thoughts - you must have been given that result a while ago if you are on 4 of 6 chemo - over half way home already!! How have you been?

I am taking part in the TACT 2 trials so am getting weight, bloods etc done tmw. We are lucky in that we are going on hol a week tmw for 2 wks before we start on the programe - can’t wait for the break - and am not looking forward to treatment - but when I read the postings on this site from you all - it really does give me a feeling that I can do it - although we would not be on this site if we could have avoided it - there is nothing better than hearing the ‘state of play’ from the horses mouth!

Take care all

Lots of love