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Topic: pain after sentinel lymphnode biopsy

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Nov 4, 2009 05:00PM

mimi1964 wrote:

I had my lumpectomy and sentinel lymphnode dissection/biopsy on 10/29/09 (6 days ago).  I am still really sore especially under my arm where they removed the lymphnodes.  My entire under arm is a little swollen, there is no redness or drainage, but it really hurts.  I have took pain pills, used iced and tried to keep my arm elevated.  I had to stop wearing any kind of bra as that was just irritating the incision.  My incision is more to the rounded part of your under arm than in the pit portion.  But when I go without a bra the weight of my breast pulls on the incision on my breast and that causes pain.  it seems I can't win for losing!! Sorry to rant, but how long will this under arm pain last?  It is simply driving me insane!!! I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this?  Thanks

Hodgkins Dz stage 3b 1980; Radiation 39 txts completed 2/4/10; Partial Mastectomy 10/29/09; DCIS and IDC; reconstruction on 12/29/10 Dx 10/22/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 4, 2009 05:06PM - edited Nov 4, 2009 05:07PM by Luah

Hi Renee: I am 20 days out from SNB and I'm still bothered by it - sorry to say.  Numbness, stinging at incision and supersensitive skin (clothes feel like sandpaper) which is only just now starting to subside a bit, I think. I always find a shower helpful.  And the stretching exercises - in moderation!  Otherwise, I don't think I can offer much help - hang in there - it'll get better.

We've been through some things together/With trunks of memories still to come/Long may you run (Neil Young). Lx, ALND, 4 DD AC &12 weekly Taxol, 31 rads, completed Jul 10 Dx 9/14/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/14 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 4, 2009 06:36PM mom_of_2 wrote:

Hate to tell you ladies but my SNB was far worse than my bilateral mastectomy :(

My surgical oncologist said it can take up to 18 months to heal. I had mine June 2008 (almost 17 months ago) and I am just now getting back full range of motion. Still have numbness and occasional sharp pain. 

mom_of_2 Dx 6/2/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Nov 4, 2009 08:07PM Leslie1962 wrote:

Wish I could give you better news, but my pain lasted for a good 4-5 weeks. My lumpectomy was September 23.  I lost all feeling under my armpit and some inkling of feeling is now slowly coming back. I found that wearing my bra 24/7 was essential because of just what you mentioned (feeling like the weight of the breast pulling etc). I also started walking my fingers up the wall for stretching, as my surgeon said that I should do this until I feel a pull - that was a good thing. So - take the pain medications if needed, and with your doctors permission start slow exercises as you feel you are able to. It does take time. Wouldn't it be great if we could wave some sort of magic wand and "poof" all better? Smile Hang in there!
Dx 9/3/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 11/18 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 14, 2009 12:07AM - edited Nov 14, 2009 12:14AM by Margie10029

I had my sentinel lymph node on Nov 6 during my lumpectomy, that pain is still unbearable a week later. My girlfriend had a bilateral mastectomy and she told me the sentinel lymph node was more painful than the bmx.  She is doing better, but its taken her six months to get there.

The painkillers get me through the night, but I feel so restricted because it was done on the side I write with. I guess if all we had was a lumpectomy, we should be grateful.

If I knew though that it was going to be this bad, I might have passed on the procedure.

Sorry no solutions on this end, just ranting alongside you. 

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Nov 14, 2009 10:16PM WordDoctor wrote:

I had a SNB and lumpectomy on Nov. 4th (10 days ago). The incisions don't really hurt, as long as I'm careful about my movements, but the dysthesia (stinging/burning/ raw feeling) that runs from the underneath part of my upperarm and around to the inside of my breast drives me crazy. It starts out in the morning as just annoying, but by lunch time it hurts a lot! It reminds me of having sunburns when I was teenager. I see the surgeon on Tuesday, so I plan to ask him for details of how to deal with it. 

Word Doctor Dx 9/23/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Nov 15, 2009 02:26AM barbe1958 wrote:

I agree that the SNB was worse than anything else. I hate to tell y'all, but I'm almost a year out and still have numbness and when I reach a certain way I get the "tug and pinch" feeling....still! I have areas that I can't feel when I put lotion on or shave. It's weird, because when I get that tug I think "Oh yah, the surgery" but it's been a year!

The shooting pain at the beginning is mostly the nerves beginning to regenerate, and it does go away for everyone that I've seen post, but I didn't believe the numbness would stay. Maybe it'll leave eventually....

I cannot imagine what ladies who got a full set of nodes out must feel like! Yell

Dx 12/10/2008, IDC: Papillary, Left, 1cm, Stage IB, 2/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/16/2008 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 2/4/2016, IDC: Papillary, Left, Stage IV, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 2/11/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 2/17/2016 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Nov 15, 2009 07:59AM somanywomen wrote:

Mimi, I had Lumpectomy with sentinel node one day before you had yours...I was allergic to the steri-strips that they applied after surgery....That first week was the worst (my Surgeon took them off on my one week follow-up), that area and breast area were flaming red...Since then my sentinel node scar area has almost healed completely....I used a lot of ice the first two weeks, I put the ice pack into a leg of pantyhose and tied it around my neck so I didn't have to carry it all the time...I also  wore a 100% soft mens (tank top style) cotton t-shirt under a fruit of loom cotton t-shirt bra that I found at Walmart, has padding, but no underwire (it is now my favorite bra)..It also comes down low enough not to rub the area of concern....Hope you find what helps for you.....

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief, “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief."....All Along the Watchtower..Bob Dylan Dx 9/28/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Nov 15, 2009 08:01AM barbe1958 wrote:

I hear women use sports bras too, as they have wider side bands and don't have the wires either. How are you doing?

Dx 12/10/2008, IDC: Papillary, Left, 1cm, Stage IB, 2/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/16/2008 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 2/4/2016, IDC: Papillary, Left, Stage IV, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 2/11/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 2/17/2016 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Nov 15, 2009 10:21AM fleecewood wrote:

Hi Ladies

I'm farther down the road then you but thought I would give you some about my journey...I had my lumpectomy in Feb 2009 and had 20 lymph nodes removed and finished with radiation the end of May.  The node removal has been the worst long term effect for me so far. The numbness of the area is going away as nerves regenerate.  I still have tenderness,  swelling and tightness on awakening every day.  I still have to massage the area and do a minimum of about 20 mins of arm exercises to feel "normal".  Its just a "new normal".  I also found skin brushing to be helpful to get the lymph moving away from the area (only after months of recovery). They tell me that life is more normal after a year- so it will keep changing.  Don't give up hope- just take life day by day.

Dx 12/1/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, 2/20 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 15, 2009 09:00PM mimi1964 wrote:

Thanks ladies for the words of encouragement and for your stories.  Isn't amazing how much our surgeons don't bother to tell us about what may not happen to us from our surgery post op?  WordDoctor - I hope that your surgeon can advise you more than mine did about how to deal with the dysthesia (I believe you called it?).  I saw my surgeon on Nov. 12 and told him about some of the issues I have been having and he told me that my underarm wasn't to swollen and that sometimes the numbness would or would not go away, but to remember that I was only 2 weeks post op.  I still have some numbness in the early morning when I get up and increased swelling and like fleecewood I gently massage the back part of my upper and underarm and get the lymph moving and the swelling and numbness goes away.  The numbness does seem to be getting  better everyday though.  I still have some pain at the lumpectomy site and sharp shooting sensations and the raw feeling under my arm, which is good first thing in the morning and worsens usually by about 2:30-3:00 p.m. in the evening and I am so ready to pull my skin off by then.

I can only tell you that I am ready to be normal again.  I'm tired of BC and my journey is only 1/2 over.  I am still waiting on the Med. Onc to call for an appt to eval the need for Chemo and then Rads.   Then it's back to see the surgeon in 3 mos.  My GYN doc is not willing to give me any meds for my low libido and vag atrophy, and hot flashes. I had just started on Estratest x 3 wks then was dx with BC and had to stop.  It totally stinks!!  I have been in menopause since 2002 when i had a total hysterectomy.  O.k. this wasn't to be a rant and I'm sorry.  I'm just really frustrated right now. 

Hodgkins Dz stage 3b 1980; Radiation 39 txts completed 2/4/10; Partial Mastectomy 10/29/09; DCIS and IDC; reconstruction on 12/29/10 Dx 10/22/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 28, 2009 11:08PM DaylilyFan wrote:

My surgery was 9 days ago, and my surgeon put me into a "surgical bra" that is more like a corset, cut very high under the arms, with velcro front closure and strap closures.  It is very supportive but miserably uncomfortable.  I did stick it out for 5 days.  I have tried a Champion step in/pull on sports bra, Spanx racer-back, Amoena's "Hannah" bra, and an old underwire heavy cotton sports bra.  All have their flaws, but switching among them helps.  My incision is closer to the armpit than to the nipple, so it's hard to find a bra that doesn't hit it.  Both the Champion and the Spanx have tight stitching along the edges that digs in.  The Softee line is supposed to be very comfortable but I'm worried about adequate support because the incision does pull if I go without a bra very long.  I asked my surgeon how long the swelling would last, and he said weeks to months--that the healing process is different for everyone but that I would eventually be able to do everything I did before surgery.  The exercises on the American Cancer website have helped with the stabbing/burning nerve pain (neither Percoset nor Flexeril made any difference), and I am going to try a "Yoga for Cancer" class next week.  My sensitive skin is not used to a bra 24/7, and I have a lot of chafing and itching, so I am trying Eucerin Calming lotion.  I am trying to look on the bright side--it could have been so much worse!

Dx 10/5/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 29, 2009 11:15PM lovetosail wrote:

hey all,

I had my sentinel node biopsy almost a week ago - just the SLN biopsy as I am on neo-adjuvant chemo and will have surgery later.  The surgeon removed 5 nodes, I don't have the path report back yet.  But I've had no problems post surgery, no pain at all, no swelling, and I already have nearly full range of motion back.  I'm SO sorry to hear of problems others of you are having after surgery, I guess the range of responses is huge - but I wanted to post to present the other view for women who about to undergo the procedure so they see that some folks lucky and don't have too many problems. 

I really hope that those of you that have had a rough time with your surgery find some relief SOON!


Dx 10/19/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Aug 11, 2010 03:39PM JanetfromPgh wrote:

Hi all..I'm glad that I was able to find this thread!  I had my lumpectomy 12 days ago.  The shooting pains are so horrible and not only is my underarm numb, but so is my shoulder, tricep area and the side below my arm.  My surgeon didn't explain any of this to me so having the numbness is pretty scary esp. in so many areas.  Most of your posts are over a year ago so was curious to hear the progression from the SNB.  I also wasn't given any exercises.  Any good ones that help?

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Jul 22, 2011 08:29PM felinicity wrote:

Hi All

On a positive note and to give some hope to those who may be reading the page who have not yet had surgery:

I had a lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy six days ago. I've had almost no pain at all and certainly have not had to take any pain killers. The most sensitive part was the nipple which can only be nerve pain but it has been maybe one moment a day. I have full and complete movement of everything all the time and no skin sensitivity.

One area of my breast is numb and when the dressings were taken off, the nurse said I have extremely bad bruising - but  no pain around the breast or underarm, incisions or not. The numbness is reducing quite quickly.

A pain I have begun to acquire is, I think, a tendon or ligament in my upper arm which began as a sore spot and now can stretch down to the wrist but it's certainly not agonising or even severe. It was looking for a reason for that which brought me to this page - I like to know what's happening and adjust to suit. It goes away if I do the exercises - and they are essential, three or four times a day - not just for now as I understand it, but also for the later radiotherapy treatment to be able to move the arm/shoulder into position.

 The hospital nurse thought the old bras I'm using are perfect - they are Berlei and designed to fit the body without any undue pressure or bulging.

My greatest sympathy to those who are suffering.

 I don't have a lot of time for the information I've been given either but clearly everyone reacts very differently and no-one is able to predict what will happen to whom.

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Jul 22, 2011 11:12PM HansieDZ wrote:

I found this thread after looking for some suggestions on how to help my husband deal with this very issue.

It's been 4 weeks and 1 day since his masectomy and the surgeon removed 23 lymph nodes. The swelling under and around his armpit is the worst for him. He has taken naproxen sodium,done ice packs,wrapped in an Ace bandage,but nothing completely alleviates the swelling and pain. He says it feels like there's a tennis ball under his arm.

Frankly,I don't know what else to suggest to him. I know that if there is a good remedy,I'll find it here from you ladies. I hope and pray that he and all who suffer, find relief-and soon!

The years run too short and the days too fast. ~ "Time Passages" Al Stewart
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Jul 23, 2011 02:17AM cinnamonsmiles wrote:

You may want to check out a thread called post mastectomy pain syndrome. I have a severe form of it. I was told by my surgeon and pain clinic dr. that nerves were knicked during my node removal. Nerve pain is very,very different from other types of pain. Normally, OTC meds do not work for nerve pain. I am on 1800 mg of gabapentin (generic of something called neurontin, not sure if i spelled it right). I am also on 25 mg of amytriptoline so I can sleep at night without waking up in pain when I move around in my sleep. You are best off talking to your surgeon about this. Another SE of node removal is lymphedema. It involves pain and fluid build up. I don't have it, so I am not familiar with it. There is a forum dedicated to just Lymphedema (LE) that you should check out as well. I found and still find it best to keep a pain log so I don't forget anything when I want to tell the drs. about my pain...what makes it worse, what makes it better etc and I am VERY specific. That way the doc's get the most info and makes it more helpful to find out what is wrong and can treat you better.

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Jul 23, 2011 10:20AM - edited Jul 23, 2011 10:23AM by ktab96

This is where ice packs become your friend.  I think the lympnode removal/recovery is the worst part of my journey.  An ice pack (on and off 15 mins at a time), moving my arm a bit and two Tyolnol seems to help alleviate the symptoms for me. 

I also sleep with a feather pillow under my arm.

ONCO Score 18 Dx 5/23/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy 7/17/2011 Breast Hormonal Therapy 7/31/2011 Femara (letrozole)
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May 20, 2017 08:28PM Auntmad wrote:

MedicatingHug for you

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