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Topic: Shoulder Blade Pain

Forum: Pain — Share important questions and provide support to others experiencing breast cancer and treatment-related pain.

Posted on: Mar 25, 2013 09:58AM

alilou7497 wrote:

I has a right breast mastectomy in January, 2012.  An expander was put in but I got infected and it was removed in April, 2012.  I then had radiation which ended in September 2012.  I have since developed this excutiating pain on my right shoulder blade that radiated to my neck, shoulder down to my elbow and hand.  Dr. keeps saying its fine and that women can feel pain for two to three years after but sometimes this pain doesn't let me sleep.  Has anyone else experienced this pain.  I am still pre-reconstruction because I am so tired of doctors I haven't gone back to try.

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Mar 25, 2013 10:43AM marymoir wrote:

hi allilou. I debated before responding cuz I didnt want to scare you, but i had right-side shoulder pain that was dismissed for too long by an orthopedic surgeon and my breast surgeon. Nothing showed up on regular X-rays, so they just said oh well (despite my history of BC). It's a long story (you can PM me if you want to know more), but it turned out to be mets to shoulder blade and/or referred pain from liver mets - they werent sure which cuz i do have a met in that scapula, but i also have liver mets that can cause referred pain to the right shoulder, neck, and arm). Even though it's VERY unlikely in your case, with a history of BC I would insist (politely, of course!!) that your doc investigate this further. Do you have a medical oncologist or just a surgical one? If you have a med onc I'd try there first as mine has been much more proactive than my surgical onc in invesetigating things like this.

As I said, In your case it's more than not that your doc is right that it's left over from surgery and radiation as that I understand that is VERY common post-mastectomy. But, even if that's the case, your doc shouldnt just dismiss it. Although i had a lumpectormy & rads, not a mastectormy, I also had post surgery pain/tightness/tingling in the scapula, shoulder, and arm on my "bad boobie" side (left in my case). my med onc sent me to a physical therapist who specializes in breasts cancer patients who really helped with my pain and range of motion. She was a miracle worker!!! She said it was good that I came when I did because I was on the road to developing a frozen shoulder, which is REALLY hard to treat once it gets to that point.

Good luck to you! And don't let your doctors dismiss your concerns! Take care!

Mets to liver and multiple bones.

Dx 11/19/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 11/3/2012, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, metsSurgery 12/09/2008 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 01/07/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 04/26/2009 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/05/2009 TamoxifenChemotherapy 11/16/2012 DoxilHormonal Therapy 03/13/2013 FaslodexChemotherapy 09/08/2013 Xeloda
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Mar 25, 2013 11:49AM alilou7497 wrote:

Thank you marymoir for responding to me.  I guess that is my greatest fear.  As it is I wasn't diagnosed when I should have been because of the "oh its nothing" comments.  I will take your advise.

alilou7497

Dx 7/27/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 7/1/2013, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/08/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 12/08/2011 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 01/31/2012 Mastectomy (Right)Radiation Therapy 07/07/2012 3-D conformal external beam radiationRadiation Therapy 07/10/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiationChemotherapy 08/19/2013 carboplatin, TaxolRadiation Therapy 08/30/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiation
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Mar 25, 2013 05:14PM Lily55 wrote:

I have constant paín shoulder, neck and arm but only since rads not before it IS common and because nerves and muscles are all connected in that área...

Dx 4/2012, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 7/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 05/03/2012 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Radiation Therapy 08/15/2012 ExternalHormonal Therapy 07/20/2013 Aromasin
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Mar 26, 2013 09:21AM marymoir wrote:

Lilly, my surg and rad onc's echoed what you said. Apparently when u add rads on top of surgery, the scar tissue from the surgery gets all screwed up, and nerves and fascial tissue get all constricted. My issues on that side didn't start until after rads, as well. I think my PT also explained it that way. Guess it's our bodies' way of saying, "WTF?"

Mets to liver and multiple bones.

Dx 11/19/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 11/3/2012, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, metsSurgery 12/09/2008 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 01/07/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 04/26/2009 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/05/2009 TamoxifenChemotherapy 11/16/2012 DoxilHormonal Therapy 03/13/2013 FaslodexChemotherapy 09/08/2013 Xeloda
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Mar 26, 2013 02:18PM alilou7497 wrote:

Thats when my pain began after RADS.  But sometimes I can't sleep and my chest muscle is tight.  If someone massages the shoulder blade area it hurts where my breast use to be and if I massage my chest it hurts in my back.  All I know is that something has to give.

alilou7497

Dx 7/27/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 7/1/2013, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/08/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 12/08/2011 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 01/31/2012 Mastectomy (Right)Radiation Therapy 07/07/2012 3-D conformal external beam radiationRadiation Therapy 07/10/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiationChemotherapy 08/19/2013 carboplatin, TaxolRadiation Therapy 08/30/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiation
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Mar 26, 2013 02:32PM Lily55 wrote:

Sorry you are sharing this added bonus of little c........

WHY did they not tell us this could happen?  I have a tendency to over grow scar tissue in general and this was never ever mentioned.........and I can honestly say I am now NEVER without pain or discomfort....and it wakes me up and stops movement and all sorts. Very very frustrating...........and pain killers don´t help ..............

Even my ribs hurt a lot at times........due to tissue not moving properly over there.....

Dx 4/2012, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 7/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 05/03/2012 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Radiation Therapy 08/15/2012 ExternalHormonal Therapy 07/20/2013 Aromasin
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Mar 27, 2013 09:13AM marymoir wrote:

Ladies, I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but in addition to the great Physical Therapist who helped me, I also had a truly amazing massage therapist who helped free up some of the post-rads/surgery mess. As I recall I went to her when I used up all the PT visits that my insurance would cover for last year. Although she wasn't able to get rid of all the shoulder pain (cuz we ultimately discovered some of it was due to a met I the socket part of that shoulder joint), she really helped free up the tightness and adhesions that seem to connect the pec muscle, intercostal rib tissue, and back and shoulder muscles.

Hope you ladies can get your docs to send you to a PT who specializes in breast cancer patients..Or, barring that, find a really good massage therapist. I think you'll be able to get a ton of relief. Good luck!

Mets to liver and multiple bones.

Dx 11/19/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 11/3/2012, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, metsSurgery 12/09/2008 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 01/07/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 04/26/2009 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/05/2009 TamoxifenChemotherapy 11/16/2012 DoxilHormonal Therapy 03/13/2013 FaslodexChemotherapy 09/08/2013 Xeloda
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Apr 4, 2013 10:38AM grover wrote:

Marymoir, I know you didn't share your story to alarm anyone, but that's MY nature...and I've learned from my experience w BC that thinking the worst is in my best interest in terms of getting things done! My shoulder on lymph node side hurts pretty bad & no rads yet. Have had PT 3 times, & she has slowed down bc of my pain after sessions. So my paranoid question: had you had a PET and/or CAT scan which finally showed the mets? Praying you're doing well with treatment and it all clears up:)

Dx 1/2013, IDC, Stage II, Grade 3, 1/14 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-Dx 2/2013, IDC, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+Surgery 01/17/2012 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 02/28/2013 Mastectomy (Both); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection, Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)
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Apr 4, 2013 10:31PM marymoir wrote:

Grover, I'm so sorry that unare struggling with this pain, as well as the fear of what it could represent. I'm sorry my experience alarmed u...as a former "Stage 1-er," I know my story is the worst nightmare of Stage1 gals (which is why I debated whether to respond to Alilou's post).

To answer your ?, the mets were really diagnosed almost by accident. I started having extreme pain on my right lower ribcage area after I did some pretty extreme mountain biking. Pain was exacerbated by laughing, coughing, bending over. Onc's office said to call if it didn't get better. Had a sudden increase in pain while out of town a few days later...onc told me to get to an ER to rule out a blood clot in the lung. They did a chest CT at the ER which showed no blood clot, but did show mets to liver and bones (including the left shoulder...which I'd been complaining to an orthopedic surgeon about for months, and which had not shown up on an MRI of the shoulder just 4 months earlier). The shoulder lesion also showed up on a subsequent bone scan...don't know why the earlier MRI missed it.

Anyway, there's my long sad-sack story. Try not to let it freak u out...as I said to Alilou, at Stage1 the odds are overwhelmingly on your side tht you'll bea this beast! Unfortunately, cancer is a crapshoot, and I just happened to be one of the unlucky few who happen to fall on the "bad" side of those #s!

Good luck...hope you get some pain relief and answers soon!

Mets to liver and multiple bones.

Dx 11/19/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 11/3/2012, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, metsSurgery 12/09/2008 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 01/07/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 04/26/2009 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/05/2009 TamoxifenChemotherapy 11/16/2012 DoxilHormonal Therapy 03/13/2013 FaslodexChemotherapy 09/08/2013 Xeloda
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Apr 5, 2013 10:04AM alilou7497 wrote:

Actually I am very grateful to people that are honest because if gives me things to ask the doctor and things to demand.  I have been doing some physical therapy.  My friend is a therapist and showed me some exercises and they have reduced the pain tremendously but....it is not completely gone.   Although I know that once you go through this experience you will always have residual pain.  What pisses me off are people that don't have it, don't know what it is to have it and they google and read and then want to tell you things and/or diagnosis you.  My sister constantly tells me no no....there is suppose to be no pain.  I read that when they remove the sentinel node it reduces pain and no one feels any pain anymore.  I want to slap her sometimes.   Like the removal of one little node is going to prevent the pain from a radical mastectomy.  Ok....duh.

In any event I appreciate everything you ladies say.  And if anyone else is suffering from this pain and has been diagnosed with something else or has developed some kind of routine that can help others please POST POST POST. God Bless

alilou7497

Dx 7/27/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 7/1/2013, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/08/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 12/08/2011 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 01/31/2012 Mastectomy (Right)Radiation Therapy 07/07/2012 3-D conformal external beam radiationRadiation Therapy 07/10/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiationChemotherapy 08/19/2013 carboplatin, TaxolRadiation Therapy 08/30/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiation
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Apr 5, 2013 03:52PM Lily55 wrote:

I am using ricin oil and massaging in for three minutes and every day.....swelling has reduced a lot....shoulder still hurts.....

Dx 4/2012, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 7/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 05/03/2012 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Radiation Therapy 08/15/2012 ExternalHormonal Therapy 07/20/2013 Aromasin
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Apr 22, 2013 02:39PM alilou7497 wrote:

After doing stretching exercises, having a massage and taking 20 million advils I have convinced my oncologist that I need a scan.  The shoulder blade still hurts.  It is an annoying dull pain that feels good when found and rubbed but doesn't go away.

I am scared and tired.  This road is draining.  But here we go again, the tests and waiting.

alilou7497

Dx 7/27/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 7/1/2013, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/08/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 12/08/2011 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 01/31/2012 Mastectomy (Right)Radiation Therapy 07/07/2012 3-D conformal external beam radiationRadiation Therapy 07/10/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiationChemotherapy 08/19/2013 carboplatin, TaxolRadiation Therapy 08/30/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiation
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Apr 26, 2013 06:43AM, edited Apr 26, 2013 09:08PM by Fluffy9

I had the same problems with my shoulder blade and arm. Do u spend a lot of time at a computer station using a mouse? The reason I ask is because I had the same type of pain. It was horrible. Sure, the thought of it being bc related was my first concern. But instead of going to my oncologist first, I went to my ortho doc. He told me he had the same problem and he remedied it by lowering the mouse pad at his computer. Instead of it being on the desktop with his keyboard he rigged up something that he used the mouse on below the desktop height. I tried it and it worked! It was great. Just thought I would tell u this. Maybe it will help u. Now if it acts up I do the same thing and it stops it from getting bad.

Dx 1/23/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 14, 2013 07:45AM alilou7497 wrote:

As an update.  Turned out that because of all my years at a computer, flicking the mouse and bad posture I have bursitis.  Therefore a shot to the bursa sac actually relieved much of my pain.  But Lord everything now causes fear, doubt and everything else you could possibly feel.  Thanks guys for all the support.

alilou7497

Dx 7/27/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 7/1/2013, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/08/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 12/08/2011 Lumpectomy (Right)Surgery 01/31/2012 Mastectomy (Right)Radiation Therapy 07/07/2012 3-D conformal external beam radiationRadiation Therapy 07/10/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiationChemotherapy 08/19/2013 carboplatin, TaxolRadiation Therapy 08/30/2013 3-D conformal external beam radiation
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May 18, 2013 05:01PM Fluffy9 wrote:

Happy you got some answers. I was diagnosed back in 2006. Honestly, the fear factor does lessen a bit with time. Be patient. Take care.

Dx 1/23/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 18, 2013 06:39PM marymoir wrote:

Sooooo glad to hear this!! Well, sorry u have bursitis, but glad it's not mets!!! Crazy living in cancer-world when we're happy to find out we have almost any other ailment on the planet!!

Mets to liver and multiple bones.

Dx 11/19/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 11/3/2012, IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, metsSurgery 12/09/2008 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 01/07/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 04/26/2009 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/05/2009 TamoxifenChemotherapy 11/16/2012 DoxilHormonal Therapy 03/13/2013 FaslodexChemotherapy 09/08/2013 Xeloda
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Jul 1, 2013 12:31AM jkwsmama wrote:

I have achy pain in my right shoulder ( my cancer side ) so it's freaking me out.. I had a double mastectomy in sept 2012 chemo finished end of march 2012.. But have had pain achy should neck pain for at least a month now.. I'm scared but oncologist said I'm coming in 2 weeks for bone blood test no PET scan before but I'm so scared.. Every little pain.. Left hip as hurt on and off but the shoulder is just different.. Can
Anyone explain what it feels like to have mets? I'm 42 and have a little one and want to see grandchildren!!

Dx 8/29/2012, IDC, <1cm, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 9/26/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 09/20/2012 Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic Mastectomy (Left)Chemotherapy 11/29/2012 Cytoxan, Taxotere
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Aug 7, 2013 01:32PM nana-1-miki wrote:

I feel like I complain about the pain I have too much. Though no one has said as much. Had bilateral mast. had 3 lymph removed, that included sentinel, in May. Began letrozole Jun, Had 1st round of Zometa, just a week ago. My pain is in shoulder blade on involved side as well as the same general area where my mine began before diagnosis. Which was treated as inflammation, Motrin, warm packs on same. Now I'm having diff. pain, sharp ,along with the constant. It will wake me out of sleep. I know I'm not alone, or the first to be scared about pain, if ur out there with like symptoms, would appreciate hearing.




Dx 4/10/2013, ILC, 4cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 3/20 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+Hormonal Therapy 06/13/2013 Femara
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Oct 9, 2013 10:15PM vaper wrote:

I just had mastectomy and lymph nodes a week ago. The shoulder pain on that side is real bad. I think the worst. And I still have a lot of pain. I to started having shoulder pain on the other side months ago.

Dx 6/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 10/02/2013 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)