Lumpectomy pain increasing week 9

Hi, I had a lumpectomy/sentinel node removal in early January. Results were very positive. Clear margins, nothing in lymph nodes, low OncoDx score. I know I am so lucky and am very grateful. I had some nerve pain from lymph node removal and am currently taking 1 x 25!mg amitriptyline at night which has helped settled it down. However, my breast wound has been increasingly tender and painful in last few weeks. The wound was checked, nothing amiss, but the burning /stabbing pain is really making me miserable and no amount of adjustments/switching of soft bra/sports, makes any difference. Otc pain relief makes no difference either. I am due to start radiotherapy next week and worried this will irritate breast further. I understand nerve pain at site is common but I had very little pain initially in comparison to pain today at week 9. Any advice at all would be appreciated :blush:. I do know in the scheme of things this is not a big deal, but I have a child and elderly parent to support and need to be able to stay on my feet. Thanks for reading.

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Maybe nerve regeneration pain?

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I’m now 4 months post up lumpectomy. I would definitely say that the pain/recovery is not linear. It comes and goes and gets worse when not expected. I would definitely advocate continuing to take regular pain relief for a couple of months. I took paracetamol with 8mg codeine, 4 times a day for weeks as it helps keep on top of it. Other options are the nerve type pain killers like amitriptyline. I also tried gabepentin (prescription only) but couldn’t tolerate the sedation aspect of it but could be worth trying, it pregabelin.
I think it’s the nerves trying to regenerate that cause a lot of the pain rather than the scar pain.
My other top tip would be a cold pack under the arm, especially in the evenings, was a godsend. I bought one from Amazon, and you could actually attach it with a holster elastic thing if you wanted. Really helped me.
Now at 4 months I just have a full ache and occasional shooting pains.
I think that pain is very under told to us and better explanation would lead to less fear and anxiety.
Good luck and I promise it will improve soon. Xxxx

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Hi. I had my surgery two weeks ago and was thinking the same thing. When will this pain go? I too have the burning/shooting pains. It’s horrible. I really hope you get better soon. I put a small pillow under my arm which relieves the pain, you could try that when you’re resting. It’s so hard when you have children. I’ve got 3 young ones and it’s not easy.

Were you given a small heart shaped pillow for under the arm? This helps with gentle elevation alongside the exercises
Definitely use pain relief and cold packs
I also used arnica ( helps with bruising) and bio oil ( helps the scar heal)
If things persist talk to your team/surgeon

Take care xx

Hi Tessie,

Thank you for posting your question.

Nerve related pain is common after breast surgery and can happen both in the breast and under the arm (axilla) as you have found. How long this takes to improve will be different for everyone and, as @vibby says, it can sometimes come and go over a period of time.

It sounds as though your treatment team are aware of this pain, and have provided some different pain relief. Medications for nerve pain, such as amitriptyline, can often be helpful. It sounds as though this has helped to some degree, but you may want to talk to your breast care nurse or treatment team again, to let them know that the pain has been getting worse. As @shahz4169 and @Curlywurly1 have said, some people find a small pillow under the arm can provide some comfort. You may find our tips for managing pain helpful.

It’s understandable that you are feeling worried about starting radiotherapy and if this will irritate the symptoms you have. Radiotherapy can cause some side effects, but these will be experienced differently for everyone. Do talk to your treatment radiographer or breast care nurse about this. They will be able to provide you with some guidance to help manage any side effects you experience.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events. You may also find the information in our Facebook Live about breast cancer radiotherapy helpful to watch.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information if necessary. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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