Pain after lying on side

I had a mastectomy of left breast in April. It all went well but I have quite severe aching sore Pain in my side and chest if I lie on my left-hand side for more than a minute (left is preferred side for sleeping do sometimes I shift without realising in my sleep). It fades after 5 minutes or so but is enough to make me yelp when I first move off my left side. Should I be doing anything about this?

Hi melisande

Thank you for your post.

It sounds as though you are having a difficult time with pain after your mastectomy.

Immediately after surgery for breast cancer and in the weeks that follow, it’s common to feel some pain and discomfort. You may experience different sensations such as a burning feeling and numbness in the scar area and under the arm. As healing takes place, these effects usually subside. For most people this happens within a few months. However, for some, they can persist, and we know this can affect quality of life.

Ongoing (chronic) or persistent pain may be caused by damage to the nerves, particularly those in the axilla (underarm). There are different ways of controlling this pain which are described in the link.

As you mention, sleeping position whilst healing from surgery may cause some pain or discomfort so you may find using pillows could help with your level of comfort.

If your pain is making it more difficult to do arm exercises and maintain a good range of movement, it’s important to report any problems you’re having to your treatment team or GP.

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.

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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Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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