Post-Mastectomy Pain Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Review of Treatment Outcomes

Ava G. Chappell, Selcen Yuksel, Daniel C. Sasson, Annie B. Wescott, Lauren M. Connor, Marco F. Ellis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS) is a known debilitating surgical complication. While research on prevention, risk factors, and treatments have been conducted, there remains no cohesive treatment paradigm. The aim of our study is to synthesize the existing evidence on PMPS treatment, which may facilitate the implementation of standardized, effective management strategies. Methods: Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, a comprehensive search was developed and translated for MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and The databases were searched using a combination of free terms, phrase searching, and database-specific controlled vocabulary related to PMPS. All unique records were by two independent reviewers. Publications on chronic (>3 months duration) pain after breast cancer-related surgery were included. Limited case series, case reports, and editorials were not included. Results: A total of 3402 articles from the years 1946–2019 resulted from the literature search after deduplication. Twenty-seven articles met final inclusion criteria for analysis, which revealed 10 major treatment modalities: fat grafting, neuroma surgery, lymphedema surgery, nerve blocks and neurolysis, laser, antidepressants, neuromodulators, physical therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and capsaicin. Conclusions: In this review, we present a comprehensive assessment of the treatments available for PMPS that may help guide breast surgeons and reconstructive surgeons to employ the most effective treatment strategies for these patients. This review supports the importance of multimodal, multidisciplinary care in improving the management of PMPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalJPRAS Open
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Post-mastectomy pain syndrome
  • breast surgery pain management strategies
  • chronic pain after breast cancer surgery
  • neuropathic pain
  • systematic review
  • treatment of PMPS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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