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Pain is the result of inflammation or damage to nerves or tissue. Pain is classified into three general types:

  • Persistent pain is ongoing pain that can range from mild to severe.
  • Breakthrough pain is the sudden worsening of persistent pain for brief periods of time. This pain "breaks through" relief provided by pain medications.
  • Acute pain is a brief, intense, and sudden pain sensation.

Breast cancer treatments can cause pain in many areas of your body:

Pain can be caused by all treatments for breast cancer:

Pain may cause other side effects:

Pain medications themselves can cause certain types of pain as a side effect, including stomach pain, back or joint pain, or pain when urinating. If you think your pain is the result of a pain medication you're taking, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.

Managing pain

  • Evaluate your pain with your doctor to find the best medicine for you and your specific situation.
  • Take medications as prescribed.
  • Don’t let pain affect your treatment. Some people avoid treatment because of persistent pain. Get the relief you need from your doctor so you can continue your treatments.
  • Reduce breakthrough pain by changing your body position, preventing coughing, and preventing constipation.
  • Plan your treatment around your pain. If you know you’re likely to have pain when you do certain activities, plan your treatment ahead of time.
  • Keep a pain diary to help your doctor understand what you are going through and how to help you manage it.

Some complementary and holistic medicine techniques have been shown to ease pain, including:

Learn more in the Treatments for Pain section.

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