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Topic: Hand numbness one year after mastectomy

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried —

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Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 06:50PM

momofcuig wrote:

Hi Ladies,

I am hoping someone on these boards can help me with a new symptom/side effect I've been experiencing.

I had a right mastectomy with reconstruction in May 2010. The latissimus Dorsi Flap reconstruction was succesful in the sense that my new breast looks ok but my back (where the muscle was removed) has been nothing but trouble. I had at least 4 wound infections and 3 corrective surgeries over the past 12 months. It is finally healing.

As part of my treatment I had 4 rounds of chemo.... cyclophpsphamide and taxotere. I also had approx 6 weeks of rads. My rads finished in December 2010.

So now..... the new problem started about 7-8 weeks ago. I am waking up about 4-5 times per night with right hand numbness and pins and needles. The numbness includes my thumb and 3 fingers. My pinky is not always affected. It seems to be getting worse and more frequent over the past few weeks. I also notice when I was peeling vegetables today, I got a pain in my wrist that felt like a nerve jumping.

Yesterday was my one year follow up appointment with my breast surgeon. I explained my new symptoms to him. He is sending me for an mri. He suggested it could be carpal tunnel, neuropathy from the taxotere or maybe a new cancer!

If anybody has any thoughts or suggestions for me please let me know. I am going crazy with worry

Dx 4/20/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 25, 2011 10:35AM - edited May 25, 2011 10:35AM by celtic61

HI, I have had the same problem with the numbness and tingling in both hands, left is worse than right. I too had chemo from Sept. 2010 to end of Dec. 2010, A/C/T. I basically have the same diagnosis as you. I had a right mastectomy with tissue expander. I just had stage 2 reconstrutive surgery a week ago.

Around the end of February, I began to notice numbness and tingling in the left hand, all but the fifith finger which correlates with a medial nerve injury/inflammation. Also, it seems that whatever area of my body that was achy before chemo has really become painful, I was a runner and did weight lifting. To me, it seems that the Taxol damaged these areas. My onc.doesn't think my neuropathy and generalized pain is from the Taxol, but I beg to differ.

I want to find out more about the effects of this drug and does it really do what it's supposed to do;other than decrease the quality of your life. It will be interesting to hear from other folks who have been through Taxol. I am a student Nurse Practitioner(yes, I stayed in school during this whole ordeal and  maintained a 4.0),and want to find out if there's anything we should be doing to prevent the aftermath of Taxol-I feel this is my job as a nurse and future NP to find this out.

Diana Besler
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May 25, 2011 09:57PM hilda1976 wrote:

do you sleep on your side with your hand under your pillow - if so it could definetly be carpal tunnel

go for the MRI - maybe a chiropractor as well - they do great things with tingling and are a great supplement to traditional medicine....

good luck.  blessings

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Jun 21, 2011 10:34PM - edited Jun 21, 2011 10:35PM by celtic61

Thanks for the reply, but I avoid tucking my hands under when I sleep, because I know that is a cause for CTS. Since I last wrote, I have noticed my hands are considerably less numb and tingly. Although my shoulder pain seems to be getting better, I now have a clicking in my left thumb-like the tendon is tight and causes my thumb to "snap" when flexing. I am considering going to have Ionic Detox foot cleanse done-can't hurt and my MT swears by it. I have an appt in a few days with my Ortho doc for my left shoulder. I want to get back to weight lifting, but it still bothers me-he wanted to inject it right off the bat, and I told him no way-I'm willing to try iontophoresis ultrasound first. It would be nice to hear from other people who suffer from post Taxol myositis and what can be done about it. This is so frustrating!

Diana Besler
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Jun 26, 2011 08:09PM - edited Jun 26, 2011 08:09PM by CoolBreeze

I began having arm problems a year past mastectomy.  While I did recur, it had nothing to do with the arm.  Mastectomy affects our body structure far more than most people think, and a whole lot of us do end up having chronic problems post-mastectomy. The day after my exchange surgery I began having shoulder problems, and to date, six months later, I cannot raise my arm above my waist.

Here's hoping you don't have cancer and it's something physical therapy can fix. 

It is creating a problem for me because now I have liver mets and a lot of the tests they want to do require me to raise my arms over my head.  I can't.  

I wish doctors were more educated about post-mastectomy problems. 

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Dec 16, 2011 12:38AM Rain555 wrote:

I have it, too.  Lumpectomy,no problems. No chemo. Did radiation and then started Arimidex (Anastrozole).  Two weeks later I started waking with hand pain, numbness.  Now occurs during the day as well.  It's a stinging pain, not easily ignored.

My fingers are warm but swollen, arm is not swollen.   Can't feel the keyboard.  It comes and goes and I'm trying to log so I can pin down the variables.

Dx 6/13/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 16, 2011 01:47AM slinky wrote:

I have been experiencing tingling and numbness in my fingers on a daily basis.  I have no idea why this is happening, but I suspect some nerves are pinched in my shoulder or neck.  I have not sought medical help, but I have been getting massages to relieve tension in the shoulders and neck. 

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Dec 16, 2011 03:28AM nads wrote:

Hi Ladies

I had a mastectomy done on my left side Jan 25, 2011 and chemo started in Feb and ended end of June. I then went onto the Femara and since then have had numbness terrible and pain(like bad pins and needles) in the thumb and three middle finger , not the pinkie. The right hand more than the left.It got so bad that I couldnt tie my buttons or zips or even make makeup my bed.The minute I touch anything the pain would be excruciating .  I took to wearing gloves which eased the pain a bit . When I spoke to my Onc about it she said it was normal and that it will last a couple of months before the pain eased a bit!!! Well it is now 6 months later and as of 1 week ago I noticed the tingling , numbness and Pain is starting to ease.Its still there but seems to be getting better everyday , I can now tie my own buttons!!!!!! Hang in there......(This to shall Pass).

 Hugs to all

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Dec 21, 2011 03:57PM Sue4LSU wrote:

OMG! I'm on this site looking for something else, and found this..I, too, had a single mastectomy a year ago, and started having the finger tingling in the opposite hand a couple of months ago.  I have been doing some physical therapy to get back full flexibility in my Mas. side arm, and just related this to a pinched nerve.  I didn't have chemo, and had immediate reconstruction, although my body rejected the implant 2 times, and I ended up having a DIEP in August.

Dx 10/19/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 21, 2011 04:01PM kate2011 wrote:

Did you have any sentinel node removal?

I just developed cording and minor LE and I'm 8 months post surgery.  Same arm that I had the SNs removed.  Pain shoots down from my shoulder all the way into my hands.  And my arm & hands feel like they are "asleep" frequently!

Just started physical therapy and compression. 

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Dec 21, 2011 04:07PM - edited Dec 21, 2011 04:07PM by Binney4

Kate, here's information on cording:


Hope you're soon feeling lots better!

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Dec 21, 2011 04:31PM kate2011 wrote:

Thanks!  That site has been helpful.  I've had some relief from PT, but it looks like it will be stubborn.  Oh well!

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Dec 21, 2011 04:51PM Shrek4 wrote:

The problem may be in the cervical area of the spine. You have the radial nerve pinched - may not be pinched just there, there are other areas that can cause nerve entrapment. I had this happening about 7 years before the BC diagnosis -mine was in the cervical area of the spine. It is possible that youhave degenerative disc disease in the area and maybe also some spurs. Or you may have had it injured with the ALND - under arm there's another area where it can be entrapped.

It's probably fairly recent and not very bad at this time, if the only pain you feel is there. Mine was very well managed with PT, especially with the "traction" machine. Try and find one of those soft foam cylinders, and sleep on your back, with the cylinder under your neck and the top of the head lower, touching the bed, if it's pinched in the spine this will alleviate the pain tremendously. Also, try and see if the pain is worse if you have your head bent forward, with the chin trying to touch your chest.

This is the area of the hand affected when you have the radial nerved pinched in the cervical area:


There is another way to verify if that is what it is.  Stand straight with your arms straight down and the palms towards your body. Lower the shoulder on the side where is the affected hand. Then slowly turn the palm facing outwards. Then bend the hand. If that is what it is, the pain will actually start when you start turning the palm facing outwards, and it will be unbearable for you to try bend the hand. the pain will be from the wrist - about under the thumb and index finger - riding up your arm towards the upper elbow area.

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