Coping with Pain Post-Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Breast Cancer Pain

Several months ago, a woman in her 50’s came to see me for neck pain. While I was doing her intake and her health history, we discussed her being a breast cancer survivor.

Five years prior to coming into my office she had undergone radiation therapy, and a double mastectomy. Following that, she had reconstructive surgery.

Her therapy was thankfully successful, she had gone five years without a recurrence, but unfortunately, she was left had constant pain in her breasts. She had been back to her oncologist as well as the plastic surgeon multiple times without any relief. By the time she had come to see me she had given up hope that there was anything that could be done (which is why she didn’t even list the pain as one of her chief complaints).

The pain pattern that she was describing was a combination of pectoralis major and minor. On palpation, her pectoralis minor was tight and painful. This was most likely due to accumulation of the trauma of radiation (which will tend to tighten muscles) as well as the reconstruction which also tends to lead to muscle tension) During the treatment I released her neck muscles (which was why she had come in). I then released several fibers of her pectoralis which led to immediate relief of the pain she had for nearly five years!

On her follow-up, after the first treatment the pain was 80-90% better than when she had come in and after the second treatment the pain had been completely resolved!

Unfortunately, nearly half of all women experience pain or physical limitations after breast cancer surgery, However, many women can find relief with treatments such as Acupuncture & Dry Needling.

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