Shoulder pain after mastectomy with reconstruction-tips?

Hi all,

I had a mastectomy, implant and sentinel node biopsy 2 weeks ago. I still have the PICO pump but no drains, so the doctor told me not to raise my hand above 90⁰ still, and not do any advanced exercises. Apparently this helps the mesh and the implant "stick together" better. 

Unfortunately, this means I have horrible shoulder pain. I am only 32 but I have always had bad joints and suffered from shoulder tendonitis. Now both shoulders as stiff as *** and I can't properly fix it yet with physio etc. Anyone has any tips please? Is it normal and does it get better?

  • Hi, so sorry to hear that you are in pain after surgery. I'm not able to offer any advice other than to call your breast care nurse but I wanted to reply as no-one else had and me doing so will push your post back to the top.

    Sending hugs X

  • Hi, sorry to hear this is painful for you however I would urge you to revisit with your surgeon. I had the same procedure and was advised to proceed (religiously!) with the exercises progressing from simple to advanced after two weeks. 

    At 4 weeks post surgery I was signed off to resume gentle exercise and I started yoga and Pilates again, my instructor knew my circumstances and told me how to tailor accordingly. 

    At 6 weeks I started physio because I had some cording and also because my shoulder blade had started to wing out on my operated side, all down to being stiff and in some discomfort and holding my shoulder and arm in a funny way. 

    Physio was a game changer! I had about 6 sessions over two months which also included some prescribed stretches to do at home.

    Now nearly 9 months post surgery, it’s all pretty much back to normal. I can still feel a pull when I use my arm, and if I don’t do the stretches it stiffens up very quickly. But I’m  back doing all the exercise I enjoy and I think this helps it a great deal.

    I know different surgeons have different views and that different health authorities operate differently, but in my experience you shouldn’t have to put up with pain. Discomfort maybe, but not pain. 

    Hope you can get something sorted soon xx

  • Thanks so much for the replies.

    The problem was that my oncologist asked me to do very gentle movements and exercises for the first 2 weeks, so that the mesh used sticks to the implant and avoid fluid build up.

    I told them yesterday and they said to start lifting my hand above 90⁰ but slowly, and advance to the harder exercises  carefully. 2 days later and I already feel MUCH better. Contacted the GP about physio too.

    I hope it stays that way but I know I have bad shoulder joints so I expect to have some discomfort on and off...