Jessica Zabel had both breasts removed in 2014 due to a cancer scare.
She hoped the surgery would make her life easier, but it caused constant burning pain in her armpits.
The mother of two children returned to normal after freezing nerves damaged in an experimental procedure.
Jessica Zabel first noticed a lump in her breast when she was about 29.
A mother of two told me today She said she found a lump while adjusting her tank top and was soon diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The threat haunted her, she said.
In 2014, two years after her initial cancer diagnosis, she chose to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. both breasts are removed.
She said Today she remembered thinking, “I never have to worry about this again.” He added that it was a big factor in the decision. cancer risk When she raised the boy, it was “hanging over her head.”
But the surgery created a new set of problems, leading to over four years of debilitating pain that left her unable to work or attend parent-teacher meetings.
Zabel, now 39, said she tried various pain relievers, neuroleptics and additional surgeries to alleviate the constant burning sensation she felt after the mastectomy. She finally found some relief when she underwent the first of several nerve-freezing procedures in 2018, which brought her pain down to acceptable levels.
At least 1 in 5 mastectomy patients experience persistent pain
More than 100,000 women in the United States each year undergo some form of mastectomy to treat or prevent breast cancer. Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Between 20% and 30% of these women develop post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS), a form of persistent neuralgia along the chest wall, armpit, or arm. American Cancer Society.
Other estimates, including studies published in World Journal of Plastic Surgery By 2020, that number will be 60% of women undergoing a mastectomy or other surgery to treat or prevent breast cancer.
People who choose despite the name of the syndrome breast-conserving surgeryYou may experience chronic pain after surgery, such as a lumpectomy.
Zabel told Today that she expected some pain after the double mastectomy. However, she was stricken with a constant, intense burning sensation in her armpits that did not improve over time.
“I just felt like I was on fire, like someone had a torch on my skin,” she told the outlet.
She didn’t like the feel of painkillers, so she tried a new surgical approach.
Zabel said she was prescribed opioids to treat constant pain after surgery, but didn’t like the fact that the drugs made her feel “changed.”
She has also tried physical therapy, nerve block injections and lidocaine patches, but nothing has relieved the pain to a tolerable level. She was almost hopeless when she met her.
Led by Dr. J. David Prologo of Emory University, the trial used a proven technique to treat neuralgia in women with PMPS, a new patient population. Prolongo and his colleagues targeted the nerves in the armpit with cryoablation, a minimally invasive procedure that selectively freezes the affected nerves.
By applying extreme cold to the nerves damaged by breast tissue removal surgery, this procedure blocks pain signals from those nerves to the brain. In the long term, these frozen nerves can be regenerated as “brand new”, allowing the patient to regain sensation without pain.
Zabel has had four cryoablation surgeries since 2018. This is because multiple nerves have been damaged, causing pain. She said her effects were gradual, but eventually made the difference between “day and night” and she was able to return to her normal routine.
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