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Post Mastectomy Pain

Post-mastectomy pain can be an unfortunate complication of surgery related to the breast. This pain is similar to those who experience an amputation of a limb and is a result of injury to one of the nerves in your chest called the intercostobrachial nerve.


Post-mastectomy syndrome is characterized as burning, achiness and sometimes stabbing pain along the surgical scar, chest, the region under the arm, and along the inside of the upper arm.


The cause of post-mastectomy syndrome can be multifaceted, but it is thought to be related to injury to the intercostobrachial nerve during surgery. This nerve supplies sensation to part of the chest and part of the inner portion of your upper arm. Injury to this nerve can occur during the actual surgery or can be a result of scar tissue formation, causing compression of the nerve.


On your initial visit, you and your Center for Pain Management doctor will develop a customized treatment plan. Your plan will depend on your symptoms and a complete examination. A thorough history and physical exam will allow us to tailor a care plan unique to your symptoms.

Your customized treatment plan may involve a combination of medications and injection therapy.  You may be prescribed a combination of medications to include nerve-stabilizing medications (anti-convulsants), anti-depressants which also work to stabilize the nerve, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and topical patches and creams. Your doctor may also suggest administration of a nerve block to help alleviate some of the pain. If the pain persists, despite the initial treatment options, your provider may suggest a spinal cord stimulator trial.