Experience with TENS (nerve stimulation) for chronic under arm pain?

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mruczko
mruczko Member Posts: 110
DEar Pink Sisters:
I had 18 lymph nodes removed May 2010. I have chronic pain (burning sensation) under the arm, radiating down the truck and towards the back. After months of being told by the good docs "it will get better" and didn't I was put on Gabapentin and then switched to Lyrica. I also use a compounded ointment of Lidocaine and Gabapentin. A surgeon attending our support group suggested I might try TENS, Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation, through a physical therapist trained in the use of this method. Is anyone familiar with TENS and its application with Chronic Nerve Pain from lymph node removal? This wonderful surgeon suggested it was time for my docs to "think outside the box".
Thanks, Marlene

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  • SIROD
    SIROD Member Posts: 2,194 Member
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    TENS
    Dear Marlene,

    I never heard of TENS. I found the following website on here.

    http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/ManualHealingandPhysicalTouch/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulation

    I had two lymph node dissections. The first with the mastectomy (27 nodes removed from level 1), the 2nd dissection, I insisted the tumor be removed. The surgeon took all the 2nd level of lymph nodes. The first level area was covered over in scar tissue. I was happy to learn so wasn't the axillary nerve to the arm. That was a big concern with the 2nd dissection. There were two nerves that were cut as the tumor had sucked them in as it wrapped itself around the axillary vein in the arm. I had a few nodes removed from level 3.

    With all that, the tumor was not completely removed and radiation took care of it. As a result I have a lot of pain in the same area you mentioned. I also have osteoarthritis, a torn supraspinatus tendon in the rotator cuff along with chronic bursitis.

    I use Gabapentin, do have lidocaine patches (which I rarely use there) and another pain patch that I do wear. I believe three of my bouts with cellulitis were due to the tumor blocking the lymph. The fourth I couldn't explain, except to say it happened many years later. With so much trauma to the area, I am very leery of trying anything new that might make things worse.

    I am very interested in hearing what other women have to say about TENS too.

    Best wishes Marlene in finding something that will help you.

    Doris
  • Rague
    Rague Member Posts: 3,653 Member
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    I have a TENS unit - have
    I have a TENS unit - have had it for years for the arthritis in my upper back. For what I used it for it's great - sometimes. Actually it'd probably be better if I used it more but it's sometimes a bit inconvient to use. You have to put the electodes on for it to work. For me where I have to put the 4 is hard to reach.

    Susan
  • Kat11
    Kat11 Member Posts: 1,931 Member
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    Wow ! 22 Nodes Removed
    A Tens machine. Never would have thought of that. I think I have one. Also I am on Gabapentin 300 mg a day and does some good for the burn and the pain down the arm. Never new about ointment. I will ask my doctor for this. I think I have just learned to live with the pain.
  • Kat11
    Kat11 Member Posts: 1,931 Member
    Options
    Wow ! 22 Nodes Removed
    A Tens machine. Never would have thought of that. I think I have one. Also I am on Gabapentin 300 mg a day and does some good for the burn and the pain down the arm. Never new about ointment. I will ask my doctor for this. I think I have just learned to live with the pain.
  • mruczko
    mruczko Member Posts: 110
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    SIROD said:

    TENS
    Dear Marlene,

    I never heard of TENS. I found the following website on here.

    http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/ManualHealingandPhysicalTouch/transcutaneous-electrical-nerve-stimulation

    I had two lymph node dissections. The first with the mastectomy (27 nodes removed from level 1), the 2nd dissection, I insisted the tumor be removed. The surgeon took all the 2nd level of lymph nodes. The first level area was covered over in scar tissue. I was happy to learn so wasn't the axillary nerve to the arm. That was a big concern with the 2nd dissection. There were two nerves that were cut as the tumor had sucked them in as it wrapped itself around the axillary vein in the arm. I had a few nodes removed from level 3.

    With all that, the tumor was not completely removed and radiation took care of it. As a result I have a lot of pain in the same area you mentioned. I also have osteoarthritis, a torn supraspinatus tendon in the rotator cuff along with chronic bursitis.

    I use Gabapentin, do have lidocaine patches (which I rarely use there) and another pain patch that I do wear. I believe three of my bouts with cellulitis were due to the tumor blocking the lymph. The fourth I couldn't explain, except to say it happened many years later. With so much trauma to the area, I am very leery of trying anything new that might make things worse.

    I am very interested in hearing what other women have to say about TENS too.

    Best wishes Marlene in finding something that will help you.

    Doris

    TENS and compounded ointment
    Thanks, everybody. I will check out the website. I had 18 lymphnodes nodes removed, i.e. "one block".
    All negative. One of my friends had nerve damage to the leg due to abcominal cancer surgery, she had PT plus TENS on that leg, it took 3 months, but now she is walking normally. However, there is a difference between the leg and the much more delicate area under the arm. I made an appointment with the internist mid Dec. to discuss this - I am not letting the doctors off the hook, however much they wish I'd do so. Months ago, when I saw the pain management guy, he prescribed an ointment containing Neurontin, to make up the difference between the Gabapentin dosage I could tolerate and what he considered to be a therapeutic dose. It was very expensive and my Medicare HMO declined to pay for it. I found this little pharmacy, they do compounding. The ointment is 5% Lidocaine, 10% Gabapentin and I apply it every 12 hrs, a prescription is necessary, the price was very reasonable. It helps some.
    Marlene