How Can I Manage Pain After Axillary Lymph Node Dissection?

Question: Are there any measures to help reduce the sensations I may feel in my hand and arm after an axillary lymph node dissection?

Answer: Some of the things we do for people who have pain is, first, the biggest thing is getting women to report it. If we look back, women have had these sensations for a long time. They often feel funny about telling their doctor or their nurse, and so they put up with it for a long time. There are medicines we can use to help. One is you can use mild analgesics, things like you get in the drugstore -- aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen.

Then there's a whole other group of drugs that are a little bit stronger. They sometimes help, but the most successful drugs, there's two groups. One are tricyclic antidepressants, a big, long word but basically what these are is old antidepressant drugs that settle those nerves down.

Also, we use anticonvulsives. Now that's another word, but anticonvulsants stop people from having seizures, and just the same way the nerve is supersensitive the nerve that's been cut or pulled is sensitive, and we use drugs to settle it down. You may have to be on those drugs for months, some women for years, but the results are quite good and people live quite normal lives without having all that discomfort.

Next: What Non-Drug Methods Can I Use to Reduce Pain?


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