Nerve blocks a good idea for extreme pain?

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Question from emilie: I was diagnosed in December 1999. I had a lumpectomy with axillary lymph node removal. I am now having extreme pain on the surgical side. The pain is like a cramping or charley horse. This comes and goes with no warning. I am being sent to a pain specialist for nerve blocks. Is this a good idea or not?
Answers - Neal Slatkin It would depend on where you're experiencing the pain. If the pain is along the surgical line or around that site, little, benign nerve tumor-like areas can form. Those are called neuromas.

What is not uncommon, particularly in women who've had axillary lymph node dissections, is the recurrence of pain in the axillary area. There is a nerve that's often cut at the time of mastectomy called the intercostal brachial nerve. That can result in burning pain, skin sensitivity, and even aching pain in the armpit area. Generally speaking, that type of pain is best approached with medications rather than nerve blocks.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Pain Management: Getting the Relief YOU Need featuerrd Neal Slatkin, M.D., Michelle Rhiner, N.P. and moderator Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answering your questions about the best ways to deal with the physical pain and discomforts associated with breast cancer and breast cancer treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2004.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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