About Breast Cancer & Neck Pain

Neck pain (stock)

A woman's nervous system is a complex thing and often triggers pain in areas unrelated to where the actual injury or illness is located. One of those is the manifestation of neck pain as a symptom of breast cancer.

Doctors are aware of this and many specialists in back, neck and spinal anatomy will look for breast cancer as a possible cause of chronic, unexplained neck or shoulder pain.

The pain a woman feels in her upper back, between the shoulder blades, or lower neck will typically feel like sore muscles or a "crick" in her neck. If this persists and does not find relief through simple therapies and spinal manipulation, she may be experiencing side effects of breast cancer rather than actual neck or back pain. For reference, pain in the bones, often caused by spinal misalignment or injury, is a deep ache or throb rather than a sharp pain or soreness.

The reason breast cancer can trigger upper back and neck pain is due to how the tumor can be positioned. Most breast tumors develop in the glandular tissue of the breast, which extends deep into the chest wall. When tumors grow deeply, being situated or encroaching on the muscles covering the ribs or sternum, the pain may be felt in the back or neck due to the way our nervous systems are "wired."

Quite often, breast cancer that has metastasized (spread) will move into the spine or ribs as a secondary bone cancer. This will also trigger back and neck pain.

So the next time you feel back pain that just won't go away, pay closer attention to it. If stretching, rest, or physical therapy do not alleviate the pain within a day or two, talk to a doctor about getting checked for breast and bone cancer.


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