Nerve pain (not neuropathy)

Posted by tinagonsalves @tinagonsalves, Mar 15 11:50am

I had breast reconstruction and about a week later had severe nerve pain in left armpit. Doctor sees no evidence of it being caused by the surgery. Have taken all the usual nerve meds and nothing is helping. Waiting to see a pain specialist and neurologist but appts are weeks out. What have you used for nerve pain that has worked for you?

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After my lobectomy I was given gabapentin for nerve pain. I didn’t do well with it but a lot of people do. And my instinct is of course it has something to do with the surgery. There’s a saying that if you hear hooves, think horse not zebra. I’d say the surgery is the horse in this 🙂


Maybe scar tissue is the culprit. Some docs don't admit it. Perhaps try a targeted stretching exercise and/or an infrared heating pad. That's what I did after an operation that involved going through my right breast. Pain is not totally gone but very tolerable.


I had significant nerve pain after cesarean section and some after breast implant explant removal (under breast). They used drains under my arms and I have some residual pain (it is over 9 months since the explant surgery). You can try Salonpas lidocaine pain patches or nerve pain creams (like those with capsaicin). I do have small fiber and peripheral neuropathy. It does sound like your skin surface small nerve fibers are reacting to the reconstructive surgery. Surgeons never like to admit to anything for fear of lawsuits. If you have had chemo, that can also cause neuropathy. If the nerve pain continues, you can ask your doctor for Cymbalta (duloxetine) which helps with nerve pain. Good luck!


I agree with PB50 that surgery is the culprit just based on location.



Surgery does cause scar tissue which can tighten up and cause pain. Many people have patterns of tightness that can cause pain anyway, and surgical scar tissue can just link into that pulling tension across large areas of the body. Myofascial release has helped me a lot with releasing scar tissue after spine surgery, ankle surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome. Arm pit pain does happen with thoracic outlet syndrome because it is a compression point of the nerves traveling into the arm, and MFR has helped me with that. Surgery near that area will add inflammation, and if you have TOS (often missed by doctors), it probably aggravated it. If you are having an appointment with a neurologist, definitely ask about TOS. I have done MFR since 2010 and my therapist has taught me ways to self treat at home so I can work things out for myself mostly. Here is our discussion where you can learn more. There is a provider search at .

Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR) for treating compression and pain

Even if your surgeon doesn't know about MFR, that doesn't matter. Having pain is enough to warrant physical therapy. You can also ask your primary care for a referral. You may need to be several weeks past the surgery before you can do this if the incision is still healing. This would be a good discussion to have with the neurologist too.


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