Nerve pain after lumpectomy

Hi, I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy just over 2 weeks ago.  For the last week I’ve had bad nerve pain I,e. burning and tenderness over my shoulder blade as well as my breast and underarm.  The rest of the area is numb. It is painful when I move as my clothes brush the area. Is it common to get this kind of pain after this operation? Has anyone else experienced this?  

I spoke to my breast care nurse and she said the nerve pain was to do with the surgeon moving breast tissue around.  Is this pain temporary?  She advised me to get pain relief that works, as OTC general painkillers don’t.  My doctor has given me Amitriptyline which is for nerve pain this isn’t helping much with the pain either, it’s making me drowsy which helps me to sleep at night.

I’m feeling really down as I thought any pain from the operation would be less by now and I’m dreading the thought of adding to my pain when I start radiotherapy.

  • I will describe the pain I had as feeling like sandpaper being rubbed over me. Amitriptyline didn't work for me either. It is temporary,  mine lasted about 3 weeks and was gone when I started radiotherapy.  I found that tighter tops that didn't rub so much helped or if you can, just go around in your bra. Good luck and hope you feel better soon. X Sarah

  • i found a compression sleeve helped me as it stopped the arm from rubbing, and the nerves calmed a but. u can get drs to get u one, but i bought a compression sleeve on amazon, make sure u get the right size, u want it not too tight ti cause any complications. it helped me a lot, i am also using compression while on paclitaxel same reason, best of luck hugs

  • I used a pillow under my arm to stop any chaffing x

  • Hi Sarah,

    thank you for your reply. Yes I agree with the sandpaper feeling. I didn’t know if it was just me as I wasn’t warned about this. I’m so glad it’s temporary!  Did you still have a lot of swelling andGrimacing hardish lump under the wound? Not sure what normal is Grimacing

     Thank you. I tried a tighter sports type bra today and it was more tolerable for most of the day.  Good idea Thumbsup.  I’m back for my follow up tomorrow to find out what’s next.  

    Hope your treatment is successful and you’re ok. X Debra

  • Hi thank you for your reply and advice.

    I don’t have any arm swelling so not sure about compression sleeve.Thinking  I did wear a tighter bra though today and that helped to reduce the nerve reacting.

    Thank you, best of luck to you too. X

  • Hi,

    thank you for your reply and advice.

     I have been using the pillow, it does help. X

  • Hello Celia,  sorry that you are not feeling better but I’m sure you will feel better soon.  Surgery is always a disruption to our bodies and we all react differently.  I am small breasted so opted for no bra after surgery and worked well for me but don’t think it works if you have larger breasts.  Also I did not need a SNB so that makes a big difference as that seems to be a thing that everyone has issues with.  I think that everyone has given you really good advice.  I did remember after my lumpectomy having zinging like pain in breasts but it was a quick sensation.  I also think some surgeons are not as gentle as others.  You are on the mend now and then onto radiation which wasn’t too bad.  I had radiation both breasts and was worried as I have sensitive skin that is reactive and also get flares of eczema but all went well and skin held up well with pampering.  I did have sore nipples for a while during treatment but that went away and I did have zingers type pain which is the nerves healing but all in all not too bad.  It is very nice to be fine with those things but on hormone blockers and that brings other things.  Oh well I hope you feel better soon and do well with radiation.  Your body will dictate how much to do.  
    Take care



  • Hi,

    thank you for sharing with me. It’s very helpful to know what other’s have experienced even though we’re all different in the way our bodies react.

    I must say, I wasn’t expecting the constant nerve pain, it feels very raw. I’ll be seeing the surgeon tomorrow and see what he has to say about the it and the biopsy results.

      I’m glad you found radiotherapy fairly trouble free.  Hopefully mine will be ok too.  My breast care nurse said I would only need 5 sessions, as my lump was small, detected early thanks to mammogram screening. Pray 

    All the best for your recovery xx

  • Hi Celie,  yes the 5 sessions will be nice.  I opted for the 16 sessions as the 10 year data on the 5 sessions was not reviewed.  My surgical oncologist was very optimistic and said I could do it but I was a bit apprehensive.  I also had a small 3mm tumor in left breast but DCIS in right .  Margin on 1  area of the DCIS was not 2 mm so had a booster of 5 sessions added on to that side in tumor bed.  

    That nerve zinging pain is a real sharp ouch but mine was quick.  Once I finished radiation and got the ok fro radiation oncologist I started daily breast massage and it helped almost immediately and zingers were gone.  Yeah.  
    I have a YouTube link to breast massage that shows how to do it.  Very helpful.  If you want it let me know.



  • I experienced this really severely and was prescribed Gabapentin which alleviated it.