Pain after lumpectomy and ANC


I had lumpectomy and all nodes removed 10 days ago but the pain seems to be getting worse, not better! I’m doing the exercises but am quite reluctant to do them! Tried stronger painkillers but they just made me tired and constipated!!

Pain is mostly in my upper arm, anyone else had the same problem? 


Hi @moobloo    

 I’m a year plus post lumpectomy and SNB and a year post rads I didn’t have much pain but what I did have was in my axilla and upper arm . I also was anxious about my painful arm and was worried there was something wrong but there wasn’t .

I hate taking strong pain killers for the same reasons as you and respect and understand your decision to stop them - but you’ve got to do the exercises .

 Yes they hurt but if you don’t do them you will get more problems and it will hurt more  , especially if you’re going to have radiotherapy as you will need good range of movement for positioning and afterwards to prevent the tissues contracting . I try to do one set every day but it’s easy to forget when the pain isn’t there to remind me - though I still get an odd twinge in my upper arm ( yes even now).

Take a few deep breaths before you start , try to relax . It seems natural to move on the inhalation but our bodies tend to be more relaxed on exhalation so try exhaling as you move into the stretch - it might be a little easier ( a tip from an Osteopath ) . Google Pandiculation which is stretching with yawning ( it’s a thing honestly !) which can make movement easier . Try not to force yourself into the extreme of each position - stretch until it hurts and aim to extend the movement a little at a time .

It sounds like you’re due an appointment any day but you should reach out to your Treatment Team if you haven’t already just in case you’ve got a bit of cording or are starting with some seroma. My BCN said that Ibuprofen is helpful for seroma . I know a lot of people aren’t able to take Ibuprofen by mouth but can often tolerate Ibuprofen or Diclofenac cream - you shouldn’t put it on your breast / axilla / wounds but it should  be ok on your upper arm - check with a Pharmacist if you’re unsure whether it’s suitable for you .

My friend who had a lot of tightness in her upper arm turned out to have a bit of cording ( which has resolved ) and was taught a gentle massage technique by a Breast Care Physio which she found helpful so if you haven’t got a Physio appointment then consider asking for one .

Hope you find this helpful and wishing you all the best with everything x

Hi @moobloo I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. I had 2 lumps removed and a full axilla node clearance 12 days ago. I am usually quite tough but my arm is really sore and I feel like it’s getting worse. I still have a drain in which doesn’t help! The area isn’t hot or red or have any obvious signs of infection. It’s almost hard to do the exercises as the skin feels raw. When did yours start to feel better.? Any advice or help I would really appreciate. Thanks H x

Hi, I think it was about 3 weeks before my arm pain got any better. I did keep going with exercises even though I felt like I was doing more damage than good!! (May have had a few days where I only did the exercises once a day not 3 times). I remember the arm feeling very tight and numb too. I had full node removal too and now after a year, my underarm and back of upper arm are still numb to touch but I only notice when I’m putting deodorant on. Try to use Wild or Fussy deodorant as all others are full of chemicals, which probs causes cancer in the first place)!!
Hope this helps, it will get better but takes some time.
Love Moobloo

Hi, I had a double lumpectomy and SNB at the start of January and I absolutely wasn’t prepared for the pain. I genuinely thought that I had a high pain threshold but apparently not!!

The majority of my pain was under my armpit and up the back of the arm. Actually, my boob hurt too come to think of it, especially when I reached forward. It was all incredibly sore and, to me, seemed very swollen. I went in to see a nurse in the breast care clinic in weeks 1, 2 and 3 and each time I was assured that everything was normal and just to keep taking ibuprofen and paracetamol on a regular basis. The surgeon looked at it when I collected my results (week 5) and was really pleased. It is now about week 8 and I am still quite sore and a bit swollen but I’ve accepted that this is normal and it will simply take time. It is getting better week by week but I think I was naive about how quickly it would heal.

I would suggest calling the breast care clinic if you are worried, for peace of mind if nothing else. 3 other ladies had similar operations on the same day as me and we have stayed in contact. 2 ladies have had minimal pain and the other lady is far worse than I am. We are all different! Take care x

Oh thank you for taking the time to write, it’s so hard isn’t as you really don’t know what to expect or what is normal! My drains coming out in Wednesday so that will be 2 weeks and I can’t wait to get it out! I hope that you are well x

Hi @bluelagoon it’s so nice to hear from people going through the same thing! I’m usually super tough and I think I have quite a high pain threshold but my arm is so sore! Drain out on Wednesday and hopefully not long until I find out what the next plan is! I hope you are starting to feel better and that everything is going well x