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Topic: Chronic breast nerve pain and Tai Chi/Yoga?

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

Posted on: Apr 9, 2013 08:36AM

Lymphgirl wrote:

Just trying to figure out what the next step should be with my chronic nerve pain.  I have not been able to exercise much, even walk because the pain in the side of my breast is so bad. I also have Lymphedema in the breast. Walking makes the pain worse also. Someone mentioned yoga or tai chi.  I have lost alot of my flexibility, so not sure which would even be possible. Does anyone have experience with either of these?  Help please.

Dx IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 9, 2013 09:47AM bluepearl wrote:

How long have you been out from surgery? It takes quite a while for nerves to heal and they hurt when they do. You MUST excercise to keep your flexibility, especially gentle stretches (which Tai chi would provide) and maybe see a physical therapist that knows how to work with women after breast surgery. You also need to deal with that pain. There are trycyclic anti depressants, regular anti depressants (but be care about which because some can interfer with tamoxifen), plain old over the counter meds taken regularly, some other types like Tramadol etc. I had terrible pain for at least a year, maybe more but they started to resolve after that time and while I still have pain, it is hugely more bearable now. Even 2 to 3 years out, your nerves can heal and within days, suddenly either diappear or become reduced so that it becomes like maybe an athritis-type pain. In anycase, tylenol works for THAT, or Aleve. The second breast, I decided to go to a large center and have a nodal dissection rather than an aux. one. Much better, but still have pain but am only one month + out, so hoping for the best. Lymphadema is a bitch (didn't get that YET)....MUST see a lymphadema expert.....sleeves, compression machines, excercises to keep it at bay.....it is doable. I hear your emotional pain....I was devastated by it, especially that first year, but I remembered reading about a man who had major lung surgery and said his surgical pain lasted about 3 years before it trailed off so that gave me hope. And it has. ((((HUGS)))) It will improve!!!!

Dx 1/6/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/12/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Dx 2/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/10/2013 Mastectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Hormonal Therapy 3/18/2013
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Apr 9, 2013 09:50AM bluepearl wrote:

Oh I forgot. Alot of pain comes from muscle spasms. I found ativan would hugely relieve my pain, but you have to be careful with them although I took 1 mg every day for 8 months and had no problem coming off. Made my doctor wince when I told him that, but  it worked and kept me sane until I finally got onto citalopram.:Tongue Out

Dx 1/6/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/12/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Dx 2/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/10/2013 Mastectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Hormonal Therapy 3/18/2013
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Apr 9, 2013 10:51AM Lymphgirl wrote:

Its been two years. The pain in that area has been there since radiation.  I'm on gabapentin, anti inflammatory creams to rub on the breast and tylenol #3s at the moment. The sleep doc tried to put me on Cymbalta for my apnea, nerve pain and I reacted drastically to it. We even tried to cut the small dose in half - and still had issues. I need to be on tamoxifen, couldn't survive the AI's, but Onc wanted me to work on getting my apnea in control first. I'm just tired of being in a brain fog and soon as I start exercising - the pain keels me over. After 2 years, you would think there would be some relief. Pain Management doc seems to think at this point, this pain is here to stay unless we take further measures to deal with it.

Dx IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 9, 2013 11:26AM kayb wrote:

Don't know if this will help, but I have a friend who saw someone who did myofascial release treatments that made a huge difference for her. She was over a year past rads and AND and had pain that wasn't helped by PT or other measures. She also has mild truncal lymphedema. Might be worth a try!

DX May/2010, synchronous bilateral cancer, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 9, 2013 11:41AM rozem wrote:

lymph - i started yoga and am doing it 3x a week - it has helped my pain issues.  Yoga or any stretching is good for overall flexibility, muscle toning and core strength - the mediation/quiet that is part of many yoga classes has been proven to be effective in pain control.   I would look for a dedicated yoga studio not a gym that does yoga.  Find teachers who are serious about the practice - they can help you greatly as a beginner.  

FEC-DH, LUMP, 25 RADS, TAMOX, BMSX with LD flap (worst surgery ever) Dx 8/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 9, 2013 12:22PM bluepearl wrote:

You could try other antidepressants that won't interfer with tamoxifen...Cymbalta is one that is difficult in many ways, whereas citalopram or lexapro are much easier to take. I also agree with the other two gals with tai chi maybe being a little more easy on you. I have a friend who was in a very bad accident and lost nerve sensations in both feet for over two years. They thought he'd never walk so he got special equipment to drive his car. Within three years, sensation came back and he can now drive a car "normally". With nerve pain/numbness, I think there is still hope after 2 years. However, I didn't have radiation so I don't exactly know how that can influence nerve healing; soon, but not soon enough, they will be coming out with an opium derived pain killer that will NOT have the addiction potential attached to it. They will also, in the future, be releasing a new antidepressant that one pill per week, very few SEs, and works right away. Because of where I am, I search and search.  even finding "hemi-sync CDs" that produce deep relaxation. Hang in there. (easy to say but I KNOW how much pain reduces your quality of life....try not to be alone either....diversion works wonders too.) Hope we can be of some help...I am very sorry you are suffering like this and wish I could give you a hug...it sucks this stuff....

Dx 1/6/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/12/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Dx 2/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/10/2013 Mastectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Hormonal Therapy 3/18/2013
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Apr 9, 2013 12:24PM bluepearl wrote:

PS, you may not want tylenol 3 with sleep apnea (the codeine).....8hour tylenol is fairly good but keep it under 4 g a day. Also, I lost weight which decreased my pain too (and my breathing problems during sleep), but don't know if this is an issue for you.

Dx 1/6/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/12/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Dx 2/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/10/2013 Mastectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Hormonal Therapy 3/18/2013
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Apr 9, 2013 01:33PM , edited Apr 9, 2013 01:33PM by 1openheart

Lymphgirl...have you tried acupuncture?  We have a wonderful practitioner who was traditionally trained in Taiwan and he is awesome.  He has helped me with my breast/nerve pain as well as helping with hormonal issues, regaining my energy after my surgeries and neck and back pain.  I also see a myofascial release physical therapist on a regular basis.  

I practice yoga and have done tai chi.  I need to get back to my tax chi practice.  I really enjoyed it.  I agree with the advice to find a real yoga studio to practice, not a gym.  Generally teachers are better trained, atmosphere is more conducive to relaxation and classes can be more personalized.  Yoga is not about how flexible you are.  Anyone can practice  yoga.  The important thing to remember is to pay attention to what is going on on your mat, not your neighbors and to remember that everyone's practice changes from day to day. Some days I am able to much more than on other days.  Just take it slow and go to your edge and then back off a bit.  Practicing in that manner will help to reduce the chance of over doing it and causing injury.

Good luck and I hope you can find some relief soon.

"The wound is the place where the light enters you." ~ Rumi Dx 4/28/2011, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 6/15/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Left; Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction
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Apr 18, 2013 06:05PM MaggiPgh wrote:

Hi Lymphgirl,

i read all of the recent posts about yoru chronic nerve pain.  I have been dealing with it for 5 years. It is caused due to the surgeon cutting the intercostal brachial nerves during surgery, something they are really not supposed to do.. but it happens in some cases.  I would like to tell you that it goes away..well..it did improve.  Medications do work for me:  Neurontin and Celelbrex combo.  I was on different pain meds and went to pain clinics, but narcotics are dangerous and constipate me.  I tried accupuncture, PT, hypnosis, Yoga, etc.  The only thing that has really helped me, other than the meds I spoke of, is regular exercise.  I joined a gym and go as often as i can.  I consider it my most important medication.  that and having a spiritual life and finding people, like the women on this discussion board that help me. We have Post Mastectomy Pain Syndrome.  Drs. really don't want to discuss it, since it is surgical error related.  I do hope this helps. We are all in this together. Pain after mastectomy isthe best kept secret.  

Maggi

Maggi Gioffre Dx 8/13/2008, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0 Surgery 9/22/2008 Mastectomy: Left, Right