With every operation there is a chance that nerves will be damaged, although the surgeon will do everything to prevent this. Sometimes he cannot avoid touching or cutting through nerves.
When nerves are damaged, sensory loss occurs in the area served by this nerve. For example, during breast surgery the skin of the armpit area and the back of the arm and shoulder feel deaf and unpleasant when you touch it. This is normal and occurs in a large proportion of treated women. You will always keep this deaf feeling.
In some cases, however, this operated area starts to release pain stimuli, for example with a soft touch. Instead of insensitivity, hypersensitivity occurs in an insensitive area.
Nerve pain after chemotherapy
Some types of chemotherapy can cause neuropathy or nerve pain. Usually the pain goes away after stopping the course. Unfortunately not always. It is unknown why certain drugs sometimes damage the nerves. Nerve pain after chemotherapy treatment results in spontaneous pain stimuli, especially in the hands and feet.
Who gets nerve pain?
Not everyone who undergoes treatment for breast cancer gets nerve pain. Despite extensive research, it remains unpredictable who will and will not have nerve pain after surgery. It is known that a great deal of fear of surgery and strong postoperative pain increase the chance of nerve pain. These are confirmed risk factors.
For nerve pain after chemotherapy, the dose, duration and type of chemotherapy play a role in whether or not getting nerve pain. In addition, it is known that various factors increase the risk of nerve pain. Additional risk factors include diabetes (diabetes) and (a past of) excessive alcohol consumption.
Usually nerve pain goes away by itself, but sometimes not. If the pain symptoms persist for longer than three months, there is chronic nerve pain. Treating chronic nerve pain often requires treatment by a pain specialist.