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A New U! Healing Arts Center
Most, if not all share more content women have some type of breast pain, especially during the time of the month when hormones surge prior to menses. However, I’m here to talk about a different type of breast pain.
Mine started several years after an auto accident had left me with permanent muscle damage in my upper body. I was in constant neck and shoulder pain. Then I started noticing pain shooting from my ribcage into my right breast. It was sharp, and it seemed to go straight into my breast. My grandmother died of breast cancer when I was a little girl and with a family history of breast cancer the odds are elevated in my case for the same type of cancer to be passed on to other family members. Was I the one that was going to carry on the legacy? Needless to say, I was frightened.
I did as all women do with this sort of problem and got a mammogram. The test results noted check more “microcalcifications in the lateral side of the right breast.” Being a student of clinical laboratory science at the time, I was able to decipher the terms to mean microscopic calcium deposits. “So what,” I thought. But the doctor was insistent that I get a biopsy since I had a family history of cancer. And being the stubborn type, I went to an herbalist friend and asked for something that would remove calcium deposits. She gave me a tincture that seemed to do the trick. The pain disappeared and I felt I had solved the problem, but did I?
Several months later the pain returned and once more I was even more frightened than the first time. I didn’t listen to the doctor, maybe he was right. Maybe the legacy was passed on to me! Now what! I returned to the doctor only to be yelled at for trying “alternative” measures and intimidated into getting a biopsy. The day of the surgery was terrifying! I had to go alone since my family lived in another city and couldn’t be with me. Here I was, 37 years old with the potential of having breast cancer and no one to be there to support me in this most traumatic time in my life. When I arrived for surgery, they had scheduled another mammogram. The technician took more than the usual amount of pictures. I thought, “it’s either really good or really bad.”
Sitting in the waiting room was horrible! I tried not to worry, but couldn’t help it! What if I do have cancer? Where do I go from here? Thoughts kept shooting through my head of what may happen and what the results would be. Finally, the radiologist came out and called my name. He asked me what I was in there for and I told him that I was diagnosed with microcalcifications on the outside of my right breast. To that he told me that there was nothing there and the surgery was cancelled! I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders. What a relief!
The pain kept coming back, sometimes with a vengeance! I guess I have to live with it, I thought.
I finished my studies in laboratory science and when to work in a toxicology lab at a local hospital where I met Steven*. He was a massage therapist that worked in the physical therapy department. He noticed my neck and shoulder stiffness from my injuries and encouraged me to consider massage as a method for pain relief.
I started letting Steven work on me and the results were wonderful. My neck and shoulders felt so much better. It had been 8 years since the auto accident and it was a welcomed relief to not have so much pain. After some time Steven started showing me the mechanics of muscles. He told me that my neck and shoulder pain were caused by muscles in the front of my body that were pulling my shoulders forward. These were the pectoralis muscles and the serratus anterior muscles located under and around my breast tissue. They were rounding my shoulders thus causing pain in the neck and shoulders by pulling them forward. He asked permission to work these muscles on the front of my body. I must admit at the time I was concerned of his motive. He was, of course, a “man” and I was in a vulnerable position. However, I soon learned that his intent was to help me feel better, that his training was to work injured/tightened muscles to relieve pain and nothing more. What a relief to find a professional that is truly interested in my feeling better!
By working these muscles, my pain would decrease further and I was able to stand straighter than I had in many years. The pain in my right ribcage that radiated into my breast was identified when Steven worked my serratus anterior muscles. The serratus anterior is one of the muscles of the shoulder girdle and pulls the shoulder blade forward when reaching. It can become contracted/tightened with over use like driving, office work and computers as well as trauma such as an auto accident. Mine had been in a static condition for a long time and when he massaged it, I felt much better. It also helped reduce the pain in between my shoulder blades!
Next came the pectoralis muscles . The breast sits atop them making it difficult to work them without contact with the peripheral breast tissue. Nonetheless, I saw it as a necessary task to relieve rounded shoulders, neck, shoulder and midback pain. As he worked near my sternum and around my breast tissue, I could feel the shoulders relaxing and the pain in my neck and shoulders decreasing as the pectoralis muscles were being released.
“What a difference!” I thought as I got off the table. “I’ve been in pain for 8 years because of ignorance?” “Why hadn’t other medical professionals referred me to this type of therapy sooner?” “Don’t they know about this?” “ Why are they not sending more female patients to love here see a massage therapists for relief of neck, shoulder and back pain?” I thought. Now as a fellow therapist with Steven, I am very conscience of my patient’s pain and the mechanics of their body. I, too, work these muscles on them so they can have relief of their pain and awareness of their body mechanics in an effort to correct and possibly eliminating the pain.
One thing I have learned from my experience with pain is to address it as soon as possible. Pain is the warning signal in your body alerting you of danger! It isn’t something to be ignored. Ask questions and keep seeking those answers until you get results! Don’t take one persons word especially if you “feel” there is another reason or answer to the cause of your pain. I have since learned to listen to my body and to seek out those persons that know the body on many levels not just allopathically.
The world of alternative medicine is expanding and joining forces with conventional medicine. Together, these forces are working to aid patients to heal on levels never before imagined. Find out for yourself what massage therapy can and will do for you. See it aid you to a better quality of life through pain relief and self-awareness.
The “Other” Breast Pain
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