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Tightness in chest - adhesions?

mtmom
Posts: 22
Joined: Nov 2013

So sorry to be whiny, but I knew I could come here to ask. It has been 6 months since I has surgery (right mastectomy with node removal). I did chemo first, surgery, then radiation...that was done October 30. I was doing really well with my range of motion and healing seemed to be coming along fine. About a month ago, I noticed tightness in my chest. I'm pretty sure it is adhesions from what I've read. Now I'm afraid I'm stuck. Could any of you share your experience with this and what you did? I'm praying it isn't too late to reverse. That's what I get for trying to act like I was back to normal!

Thank you!
~Mtmom

Maggie_Ann1
Posts: 10
Joined: Jan 2014

Has your doctor ever instructed you on massage techniques or exercises to help prevent or minimize adhesions?  Maybe some physical therapy?  Rads can keep adding scar tissue for awhile (like the gift that keeps on giving), so you may be right about it being adhesions.  I would call and mention it to your doctor to see what he/she has to say.  Did you have any reconstruction, which depending on the type, could warrant some massage techniques to minimize capular contracture.  If it is needed, your doctor may recommend an outpatient surgery to release that for you and give you some relief.  Best wishes!

mtmom
Posts: 22
Joined: Nov 2013

Thanks for replying. I do have some excercises but as far as massage techniques there were minimal instructions. I'm going to call for an eval and referal today for therapy. I had forgotten the doctor said (I think he said) that rads continue to cause scarring. I don't like to call the doctor for every little thing, but I'm learning breast cancer is its own little monster and carries baggage! Calling the doctor is okay.Smile

I haven't had reconstruction. This is just post surgery/radiation stuff.

~Mtmom

cinnamonsmile
Posts: 1040
Joined: Dec 2010

I had severe scar tissue adhesions when I had my BMX back on 1/11/11(I still have problems with them, but are manageable now).Mine set in a few months later. Theyat became so tight that by the time I saw someone in June, the scar tissue contraction were contributing to my shoulders hunching forward. I didn't have radiation, but from what I have read, rads can make them worse.

I saw two occupational therapists who job shared that had experience with scar tissue adhesions after breast cancer treatments. One was better at hands on Myofascial Release (that is the technique used to release scar tissue. It is more than "just a massage." The other OT was better at showing me modified yoga and stretches to do at home.

For the first week or so, I couldn't tell much difference. I usually had OT appointments on Mondays & Thursdays. After a couple weeks, I could feel myself tightening up between Thursday & my next appt and looked forward to the beginning of the week appt.

It took about 5 months before I was dismissed. But that doesn't mean you would be in OT that long!

I would ask your doctor for a referral to an experienced (you can ask for one with experience with post breast cancer scar tissue adhesions) occupational therapist to be evaluated. The reasons why I say you want with experience or training is because in February 2011, I saw an OT that had very little experience with someone like me and actually caused me pain (I also had and still do have severe pain from nerve damage from nerves being nicked during the BMX w/node removal). She just didn't have the training.

You may want to write down where you feel it, be very specific with descriptive words to describe what it feels like, when it is better, when it is worse, what makes it better, what makes it worse, etc. Take that to your dr. and OT evaluation.

Personally, I wouldn't try anything without seeing an OT first. Most doctors and breast surgeons aren't trained in specific occupational/physical therapy techniques. They can give you "general" techniques, but not like an OT would. You don't want to do any damage. Your OT/PT can evaluate you, start OT/PT if needed, then set you up with home exercises/stretches when they deem you are ready.

You are not whiney!!! Breast cancer treatments and surgeries leave us with all kinds of nasty side effects.

I hope you can find someone to give you relief.

mtmom
Posts: 22
Joined: Nov 2013

Thank you for the reply. I feel so stupid and keep thinking I've done something wrong or not done enough and now this is how it is. You've given me hope! I'm calling my doc today and won't let up until I get a referral. I've been in for lymphedema and thought those excercises would be good. But, from what you have said there is more to do. What a learning curve!!

Blessings,

~Mtmom

cinnamonsmile
Posts: 1040
Joined: Dec 2010

I have LE as well, but it took foooooorever to get it diagnosed and to find help for that. It was a year or almost a year after the BMX that I finally got help for LE.

If you like your lymphedema therapist, check out and see if they know about scar tissue adhesions, as well. They more than likely would know about scar tissue adhesions, too.

And yes, treating scar tissue adhesions is totally different than treating LE.

Keep us posted on how you are doing!

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8219
Joined: Aug 2009

getting checked out by your Doctor.    Wonderful information provided by all.

Please keep us posted.

Strength, Courage and HOPE for a Cure.

Vicki Sam

 

Maggie_Ann1
Posts: 10
Joined: Jan 2014

Like Cinnamonsmile, I also had a therapist who was experienced with both lympedema and adhesions, as well as cording.  They'd initially set me up with a therapist who didn't have that specific experience, and when she did my initial intake, she was professional enough to send me right over to the therapist who did.  So glad she did!

And no, you're not whining.  I've learned a lot from others, and others will learn a lot from you.  While none of us signed up for a firsthand breast cancer course, we're in the classroom together!

Hugs, and best wishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2ndxyvonne
Posts: 41
Joined: Nov 2013

It's been 5 years since my mod rad mx, had 9 lymph nodes removed and I still do my range of motion exercises.  I also had another surgery this past Oct (same side, left), and Thank God I kept doing my exercises, I haven't had any problems with the tightness.  My surgeon had me do the "walk the wall" exercise, and it's been so beneficial, at least for me.

Compromising2
Posts: 15
Joined: Apr 2012

I had a right mastectomy 2 yrs ago. I still experience a certain tightness I did not have reconstruction. Have had physical therapy where I learned that massaging the area and exercise would help to relieve the tension. I try to do the recommended exercise and some yoga every week. I can feel tightness in my chest after exercise and when I lift or move certain way. Two years after chemo, surg & rads I still need the massage & exercise because the area is just scared. I hope that u able to find something that comforts u and releive the tension. The therapist asked me why the spot was so tight. I was so tied up with all other side effects of treatment & medicine I thought that it just healed up that way. I am thankful to know how to better manage that uncomfortable feeling.    Best wishesSmile

desertgirl947's picture
desertgirl947
Posts: 401
Joined: Oct 2012

I found that as time went on and I became more active, the tightness in my chest dissipated.  I can't say when it dawned on me that I could more comfortably turn my head, for example, without feeling a pull. 

I think the weirdness I am experiencing right now in the area -- nothing really unnerving -- is due to the dryness/cold we are having this winter, as it has been nasty cold this past month here.  January temps were below zero for parts of 10 days, including three days this week. 

Sometimes we run out of patience, waiting for things to go back to a degree of normalcy.

mtmom
Posts: 22
Joined: Nov 2013

Thank you all for your input. I was finally able to get in to see my rad onc and then get in to physical therapy. In the meantime I noticed my neck, shoulder, and back muscles were really getting painful. When I went to PT yesterday the pain had gotten so bad I wanted to focus on that rather than the adhesion problem. I'm scheduled to see the PT again tomorrow...maybe...it's raining outside and the temp is dropping to 0` and the snow starts in a couple of hours...and we will continue to work on the pain issue.

Then I made the mistake of getting on the internet. I googled my pain symptoms and recurrence and of course, got answers as vast as the sea. I should have gone to my onc about the new pain, but figured I would just go to PT. I'll call for an oncology appointment tomorrow. My question is...does the thought of recurrence always pop into your mind when a new ache, pain, or weird something shows up? I'm not quite to my year since dx and I don't want to cry wolf about everything. But, I also don't want to miss anything.( I let my bc go thinking it was just a muscle problem in my armpit and breast.)

Thanks for letting me vent!

Blessings,

~Mtmom

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