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Tight pectoral muscles and shoulder and arm pain

LizM Member Posts: 46
edited June 2014 in Breast Reconstruction

I am two years post bi-lateral mastectomy with tissue expanders and one year post implant exchange surgery with silicone implants.  I had rads to tissue expander before final implant exchange.  Last year at this time I had a frozen shoulder and was doing physical therapy.  I am currently taken Femara which is causing me joint/muscle pain and my pectoral muscles are extremely tight which I think may be causing poor posture (foward leaning head) and tight muscles in shoulders and neck.  Is there anyone out there who is experiencing tight chest muscles after two years? 


  • SLH
    SLH Member Posts: 7
    edited November 2007

    Hi Liz,

    I had my bilateral w/expanders surgery in March'05, followed by final implants Sept'05.  My neck/shoulder/pec muscle pain started in May'05 when the expanders were filled to capacity.  I've had PT, massage, yoga, and a ton of Advil, but I can't seem to gt rid of the tightness and pain, esp down both sides of my neck.

    Lately, I think it has been getting worse.  I used to be able to relax lying down with my neck supported by a pillow, but now my pec muscles contract around the implants, which I'm wondering if it's the start of capsular contracture.

    I envy the women who have successful reconstructions, but have come to the conclusion that I can't.  I have given into this pain long enough, and have scheduled a consultation with a PS to talk about removing my implants asap.  I want my "self" back---the strong, athletic artist who could work all day and night on a project.  I can't let foobs rule my life.


  • puppyholic
    puppyholic Member Posts: 12
    edited November 2007

    Hi Ladies,

    I have neck and shoulder pain too - about 9 weeks out of bilat with DIEP. Are you sure it's from the implants and not the masectomy? It's pretty depressing - I'm hoping it goes away with exercise. My insurance doesn't pay for pt.

  • iodine
    iodine Member Posts: 869
    edited November 2007

    I had shoulder and upper back pain and swelling.  I began regular massage and had enough improvement to begin a swimming program (back stroke is great for range of motion).  The massage was a god send, it helped relieve the pain and reduced the swelling or fluid retention.  I didn't have LE>

  • rubytuesday
    rubytuesday Member Posts: 19
    edited November 2007
    Liz, I too think that the tightess that I have is more from my mast/especially lymph node dissection.  Mine is more down my side and under my arm pit.  I also have neck problems but have had them for years so I can't blame bc for them (although I am tempted to blame Femara for some of it Sealed).  Best wishes!
  • roseg
    roseg Member Posts: 15
    edited November 2007

    Are you keeping up with your PT exercises?

    I think when we've had surgery that things won't stay normal without continual work. Actually I think that holds for everthing as I'm not fitting into the same pants I wore when I was 21. Frown

    I am quite keen on Yoga for posture improvement as many poses involve rolling the shoulders around. It's so easy to get into a chair slump. 

  • cayenneblue32
    cayenneblue32 Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2007


    Wow - I read your post and felt that I was reading my own history.  I had a bilateral with tissue expanders in May 2006, and had my exchange for silicone implants in August 2006. Following my exchange, I ended up with a frozen shoulder, and went through months of physical therapy. I've been on Arimidex ever since my exchange surgery.

    I've been pretty good in the aches and pains department, but in the last month or so, my shoulder area and neck have been aching a bit. Nothing severe, just there...... My pecs feel rather tight on that side as well, for some reason. My immediate thought was "Oh no - my shoulder is starting to freeze again", but that doesn't seem to be happening. I'm starting to get a little worried about the neck/shoulder pain, but am trying to attribute it to Arimidex............ I can't tell if the pain is in my muscles or in the shoulder bone - it seems to move around!

    Good luck!


  • LizM
    LizM Member Posts: 46
    edited November 2007

    Thanks ladies for your responses.

    Theresa, I was also starting to get a little worried BUT I had switched from Armidex to Femara in Aug 07 and thought it might be the Femara kicking in as the pain started at around 2 months.  I have had pain in my upper arms since I started Armidex which I was on for 1 year.  I also had a stiff neck and tight muscles after my surgery while going through chemo and the expansion process.  One of the reasons I am not super concerned is that the pain is in both of my upper arms, both shoulders and on both sides of my neck and moves around and comes and goes and is definately in the muscles.  I can feel my tight pectoral muscles and tightness at the trigger points of my trapezius muscle.  It could also be the change of weather (cold) has activated the trigger points in the muscles.  I have also noticed that heat, hot tub and yoga posture poses really help.  It really didn't dawn on my until recently that my muscle pain could be from my tight pectoral muscles from my implants.  My shoulder also pops which makes me wonder if I have frozen shoulder again or if it really cleared up.

  • SandyinSoCal
    SandyinSoCal Member Posts: 559
    edited November 2007

    I had many sessions of lymphatic drain massage after my first surgery, and during the last few, my therapist worked on my upper chest, doing fascia release because my chest was very tight and my posture was suffering.   She works with a lot of breast cancer patients and told me that we tend to pull our shoulders forward in a protective way on the mastectomy side(s), leading to tightness and backaches.  Be sure to clear this type of massage with your doctor first.

  • lady4law
    lady4law Member Posts: 32
    edited November 2007

    Liz M

    Did your Dr or PT tell you, the hot tub was okay? We have a jacuzzi in our yard and I have been told NOT to use it, unless it's cold. (Why would anyone use a cold Jacuzzi?) I was informed the Jacuzzi would aggrivate my Lymphedemia

  • rubytuesday
    rubytuesday Member Posts: 19
    edited November 2007

    Jean, The jacuzzi and lymphedema are definitely a NO- NO!  I was even warned after my surgery to avoid them to prevent lymphedema.  Best wishes