A total of 1543 patients (47%) reported pain in 1 or more areas, of which 201 (13%) reported severe pain (scores of 8-10 on the numeric rating scale of 0-10 scores), 595 (39%) reported moderate pain (scores of 4-7), and 733 (48%) reported light pain (scores of 1-3). Fourteen patients (1%) did not rate severity of pain. Among those patients reporting pain, the mean pain score in the 4 different areas varied between 3.5 and 4.0 (range, 0-10). Among women reporting severe pain, 77% experienced pain every day, whereas only 36% of women experiencing light pain had pain every day.
Of patients reporting pain, 306 (20%) had contacted a physician within the prior 3 months due to pain, 439 (28%) had taken analgesics due to pain in the surgical area, and 397 (26%) had received other treatments for pain (ie, physiotherapy, massage). A total of 1265 women (40%) reported pain in other parts of the body/nonsurgical areas (eg, low back pain, headache). Pain complaints in nonsurgical areas were associated with a higher incidence of chronic postoperative pain because 810 women (65%) had pain in the surgical regions, whereas 674 women (37%) without pain in the nonsurgical area had pain in the surgical area (P < .001)
Based on the results of our study together with previously reported findings, chronic pain after breast cancer surgery and adjuvant therapy may predominantly be characterized as a neuropathic pain state and probably related to intraoperative injury of the intercostal-brachial nerve. In accordance with these findings, preliminary observations with nerve-sparing techniques may suggest such approaches to reduce the risk of developing a chronic neuropathic pain state. ………So far, analgesic and other interventions with paravertebral blocks, topical capsaicin, gabapentin and local anesthetics, N-methyl-D-aspartate–receptor antagonists, or glucocorticoids may suggest certain benefits, but large-scale studies including well-characterized relevant subpopulations are required before general recommendations can be made. …..