Nerve Pain before and after surgery

Lelle Member Posts: 10
Hi everyone!

Before I was diagnosed back in April, I'd been experiencing nerve pain and thickening down my left side (cancer side), mainly the arm into my hand but also down my breast, ribs and into a dull ache in my leg. A few weeks after this was when I found my lump and was then diagnosed with cancer. 

I had a lumpectomy in May and the nerve pain disappeared for 3 months whilst my surgery healed (I had a nasty infection that delayed the healing process) Since its been healed completely and I've been going through chemo, the same nerve issues have come back. 

My oncologist seems to think it may be mild lymphedema (I only had 3 nodes removed- all clear) and has referred me to see the physio next week but I'm perplexed as this also happened before my diagnosis.

It doesn't bother me a huge amount but obviously any ache and pain in that area now panics me a bit although my oncologist doesn't suspect anything suspicious due to clear margins/no node involvement/tumor removed/smashing chemo.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Could it be that my original breast tumor was pinching a nerve and now the scar tissue filling that void is doing the same thing? 

Stay strong x


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388

    Scar tissue can do weird stuff and may be pulling on an existing fractious nerve. Lymphoedema would be very bad luck with only losing three lymph nodes but is worth checking out, although a lymphoedema therapist is usually more informed than a generalist physio. Sometimes a bit of cautious stretching can work wonders. 
    Best wishes for a speedy resolution to your perfectly reasonable questions. 
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,372
    Hi @Lelle
    Nerve pain is a strange beast. I've got totally explicable pain in my upper body following a thorough filleting sustained over ten years of surgery, but I have other weird stuff that had been going on for years before that.

    If my bladder is full, I get a terrible ache down my right leg and, inexplicably, my ribs and shoulder. If I get cold in bed, ditto. A doctor years ago told me he thought it might be damage to my lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. What causes that? Might be tight jeans (thank you 1980's) and legs of different lengths (thank you genetics) Riding horses and motor bikes in tight jeans probably didn't help. The upper body pain, he thought, may have been referred or due to postural changes because of my crooked structure. It's never been resolved and I've learned to live with it because while it's intermittently painful, I don't view it as sinister. Just another example of bodies being imperfectly wired or structurally damaged.

    If this condition predates your surgery, it's reasonable to assume the pain outside the surgical area has another cause. Maybe start asking your GP more questions once you feel up to it. If you've got a good GP, their overall assessments can be really informative.