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lymph node dissection + numbness/pain

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artbird View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jul 24 2010 at 9:52pm
I had a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection 2 weeks ago, and the numbness, tingling and discomfort persist behind and under my arm on the side of the surgery.  Any suggestions for relief? I am doing lymphedema prevention excercises and breathing, but the discomfort continues, including a painful sensitivity to touching the skin.  Suggestions welcome.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ann u Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 24 2010 at 11:33pm
Hi artbird
 
When I had my lumpectomy and lymph node dissection almost 4 years ago, I remember tingling, some pain, and a lot of just plain weird feeling in my armpit area.  My lump was actually in my axilla area, so along with 9 lymph nodes removed, there was a lot going on there.
 
I remember the first time I was allowed to take a shower I could not stand to touch the area.  It gave me the "willies" and I had to call my husband to come and wash the area.  You do get used to it after a while.  The nerves may be starting to grow back, so you get some shooting pains, and I usually still have stiffness in my armpit every morning when I wake up, but still no full-fledged lymphedema. 
 
I still do not have any feeling in my armpit and the underside of my upper arm after four years.  I've gotten used to it.  I still feel "itchy" sometimes, and when I go to scratch it, I can't feel my fingertips scratching the skin.
 
I bought an electric razor to shave with in the shower since I was told by my surgeon that if you can't feel a razor, you certainly don't want to risk cutting yourself with a regular razor blade that may end up causing an infection or encourage some lymphedema.
 
Ann
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scared View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scared Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 25 2010 at 8:41am
Hi Artbird,

I talked to my wife Becky and she said that she had real pain in phantom places like where her breast had been but she no longer had one but she still felt it.  Shooting pains, and nerve issues, along with the numbness you describe were normal and she took some Advil when it got too bad.

Becky does her exercises two years after her surgery and feels some pain especially if she overdoes her stretches.  She has learned to live with it and does her exercises religiously.  The doctor's cannot believe how flexible she is and told us one patient of hers does not do exercises despite her pleading and only has about 35% range of motion in that area (Becky has 95%).

So, what you are going through right now is normal, she felt the same way as you do when you describe skin sensitivity.  Pain in the area has gone way down from when she first had the surgery, but very little exists today.

Wishing you the best,

Dave
Wife diagnosed 7/08 stage 2B 4.78cm with 3 nodes. 15 weeks of Adriamycin and Cytoxin, Mastectomy, 12 weeks of Taxol, and 6.5 weeks of radiation.
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Lillie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 25 2010 at 3:33pm
Hi Artbird,

All the feelings you described are completely normal after lumpectomy, mastectomy and axillary dissection. I had my surgery 4 years ago and I still have issues with the numbness, and tingling down the underside of my arm to the elbow and in the armpit area. It was a lot worse at the beginning, but it does get better. I couldn't stand for anyone to put their hand on or around my upper arm for the first couple or three years. Even though my arm felt numb, putting pressure on it was weirdly painful.... Everything has gotten better, but as as Ann said, "It is still there". I have stiffness in my arm and shoulder, especially in the mornings, but after moving around, it goes away. Every now and then I also have phantom itches in a breast that is long gone. It is a part of the "new you". You learn to live with it.

You may hear from someone who no longer has any problems at all, but so far I haven't met one.

Good luck and you will be fine.

Love in Christ,
Lillie
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
Stage IIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. 9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 11/2015-9 yrs NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 25 2010 at 3:49pm
Hi Artbird,

Another thought....

Do you have a small pillow to place between your arm and body to keep the pressure off your surgical site. If not, this will help a lot with the discomfort you feel, especially when sitting and sleeping. I got one at the hospital when I had my surgery and I still use it sometimes. (Actually, I have two of the pillows because I had 2 surgeries) It REALLY helps.... It doesn't make it go away, but it does offer some relief.

Love again,
Lillie
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
Stage IIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. 9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 11/2015-9 yrs NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Texas Woman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 25 2010 at 7:16pm
Artbird, My mastectomy was March 29. I stayed overnight at the hospital and they put light weight pressure stockings on my legs, which I took home. When the numbness in my arm wore off, my skin under my arm was sensitive to touch and weirdly painful like yours. So I took one of those stockings, cut five inches or so off from the thigh end, hand-stitched the raw edges. I wore it on my upper arm during the daytime (never at night) until this month. I don't need it any more but for those months after the operation, the homemade arm band provided great relief and was hidden under my shirt sleeve. Of course, you don't want it to be too tight and cause damage. Probably a lympodema sleeve would work the same but I didn't know about them then. Besides they are really hot and heavy in this Texas Heat. The light stocking end did the trick for me! Hope the idea helps you too!

cher
Dx: 7/09 TN IDC Stage llB, T2, N1, Grade 3 and associated DCIS, BRCA Neg, Taxol x 12, FAC x 4, left mastectomy March 2010
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pink Warrior Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 25 2010 at 4:41pm
I had all the nodes removed under my left arm - will be a year next month - and still have some numbness under my arm, towards my back.  Some mornings it's really sensitive and hurts a little to apply deodorant.  I'm not sure if the numbness will ever go away, but, the pain is more bothersome for me.  It doesn't bother me at all unless it's being touched.
Dx:10/09,IDC Stg 2,Gr 3,TN
BRCA 1&2 -
Partial DD EC/AC
Local recur 11/10
BMX 12/10 Right proph
TC x 4 Rads x 33
9/11 Skin mets, mediastinal & hilar nodes
Abraxane/Avastin
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 25 2010 at 6:07pm
Hi Pink Warrior,

I still have numbness in my armpit and down the underside of my arm to the elbow along with sensitive skin. In November it has been 4 years since my treatment ended. The feelings are worse first thing in the morning, when I get really tired, and if I have a bit of puffiness under my arm and my bra presses against it. I really believe it is something we may have to live with. Overall, it has gotten better as time goes by, but it's still there. I don't use deodorate on the affected side... I use a cream with vitamin E in it. It keeps the skin moist and feels better. I don't have any problem with perspiration odor on the affected side.

I just tell myself if this is the worst thing I have to deal with then I am very lucky. A lot of the time I don't even notice it.

God Bless,
Lillie
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
Stage IIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. 9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 11/2015-9 yrs NED
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CiGi View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CiGi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 26 2010 at 12:21pm
Hello Artbird,
 
I also has a lumpectomy and had 3 lymph nodes removed in April.  The worst part of my whole surgey was the lypmh node one not my lumpectomy.  The scar is thicker and puffy and it bothered me since I went though it.  It's still a little tender.  I have lymphedema in my hand.  I've been going to physical therapy to get rid of the swelling.  It started from one mosquito bite.  We'll get the swelling down and then I do something like get a splinter in the palm of my hand and it puffed back up.  The days it is hot out, it puffs even more.  PT told me not to appy ice or heat.  Only to put a cool damp towel on it.
 
The pain should go away over time.   You can lightly massage (sweeping motion) around the area from your arms to your breast area to help with circulation to keep the fuilds flowing.  When the area is healed more, you can massage the area in light circular motions, along the scar, spreading your fingers away from it, it will help prevent thick scar tissue.
 
Hope that you feel better soon.  That scar will take longer to get better than your lumpectomy one, at least in my case it was.  Good luck.  If you notice any swelling, talk to your doctor. 
 
(Carol) CiGi
Age 40, 4/28/10 lumpectomy (3 cm) TNBC Grade 3 Stage 2 0/3 nodes, TAC 6x 3 week cycles start 6/15 finish 9/27, 33 rounds rads 11/22. BRCA1 & 2 neg. Lymphedema rt hand 8/14. Joint pain Dec 2010.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote paula Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2011 at 12:11pm
I had a lymph node dissection as well.  It has been seven years now and I still have no feeling in the tricept area, armpit area and down the left side of my rib cage.  My surgeon explained to me that sometimes when they perform the dissection they end up cutting the nerves in that area.  The numbness will be there always.  From time to time I also get pain and itchiness that those areas which is strange since I have no feeling there.  As far as I know there is nothing that can be done.Cry
DX Feb 4, 2004
Lft NST IDC, 1.1 x 0.5 x 0.4 cm,
Stage 1, GR 3, 1 of 17 nodes
CEF 2 of 6 cycles
30 Rads w 6 boosts
Regina, Sk Canada
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NINASUZIE View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NINASUZIE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2011 at 7:05pm
I too had altered feelings of numbness, pain under my arm for the removal of 5 nodes (all negative for cancer).  No real problems at the mastectomy sight!  I was surprised since the areas were vastly different in size!  My surgeon reassured me that it was due to cutting of and changes in sensation due to nerves being cut.
 
I used the small mastectomy pillow (bless that little pillow all this time, since 4/09).  I asked for suggestions from my visiting nurse post mastectomy and although I don't remember the ideas...I did try them and many worked...the pillow did really help to take pressure off that area under my arm near/at the incisions....best of luck, my dear and you have done a wonderful job so far already...be very proud of yourself and we are here for you :-)Suzie
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 08 2011 at 9:18am
I too have twinges, numbness, pain under my arm after almost 5 years. I had 12 nodes removed, 1 node was positive for cancer. It is worse first thing in the morning and later in the day as my bra begins to press on the area that sometimes gets puffy, even behind my armpit sometimes. I get into a warm shower in the mornings and massage the area that bothers me and then i put lotion with vitamin E under that arm and across the mastectomy scar. (That really feels good) "It really is strange that an area that feels numb can itch or feel pain, but it does."

I also have my little mastectomy pillow. It is beginning to look like Linus' blanket. My husband says my pillow has a bulging hernia.
Good luck and know that some things may be changed forever after this type of surgery.

God Bless,
Lillie
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
Stage IIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. 9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 11/2015-9 yrs NED
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