Big breasts a pain for some women

Women with macromastia, a condition of having abnormally large breasts, often experience symptoms of neck pain, numbness, tingling, and pain and weakness in one or both hands.

Though the neurological symptoms are common in women with macromastia, there has not been consensus in the medical community about how to determine the source of the problem through electrodiagnostic testing.

Electrodiagnostic testing is a diagnostic test that evaluates problems with patient’s muscles and nerves.

In a recent study of 15 women with heavy breasts, the clinical findings and electrophysiological evidence was consistent with that of a pinched nerve in the lower neck area. Patient symptoms included neck pain, numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in one or both hands. When examining the patients, the physicians found that the women had heavy breasts, that the muscles that control the movement of the thumb were found to be smaller or wasted in both hands, and there were bra strap indentations across the shoulders. Electrodiagnostic testing of both hands was performed.

According to researcher, Dr. Jacqueline Ansel of the Neurology and Neuromuscular Center in Clarksville, Tennessee, “Patients experiencing these symptoms are relieved to have their condition validated. The symptoms are not just a nuisance but are a real medical condition with clinical findings.” There are treatment options for patients with these potentially disabling symptoms including physical therapy, custom bras, and breast reduction. Patients considering breast augmentation should also be aware of the potential risks involved if large breast implants are desired.

The complete findings and results of this study are being presented at the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) 54th Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, October 14-17, 2007. The AANEM is the largest organization worldwide, with over 5000 members dedicated to advancing neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and electrodiagnostic medicine.

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