A mastectomy is performed in cases of breast cancer. It is the surgical removal of the breast. It is not uncommon for patients to continue to experience pain in the chest area for years following a mastectomy.
Post-mastectomy pain is sometimes caused by nerve damage. In other cases, scar tissue formed after the procedure grows together with nerves, resulting in painful abnormal growths. It is also possible to experience phantom pain, where the body recognizes that a body part is missing and misinterprets the signals as pain when they are sent to the brain and spinal cord.
The pain that characterizes post-mastectomy pain can be throbbing, burning, or sharp. The skin can also become inflamed, and many patients experience numbness.
Nerve blocks are often used to block the signals that are sent from the chest’s nerve endings to the pain. An intrathecal pump can also be placed in order to deliver consistent pain medication to the area. Some patients find relief from local anesthetics as well.