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Problems w/axillary node surgery recovery

jennifer40
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2002

Hi. I am 3 and half weeks out of mastectomy surgery w/axillary node dissection and getting a lot of vague answers from doctors. Has anyone experienced cords of tissue developing in their armpits with a very tight
banded feeling going on in the upper arm? I am doing all my exercises, not taking it too hard. I am really frustrated that no one seems to be able to say whether or not this is normal. I want to know if I should stick it out, or get physical therapy or something. I am pretty active and understand all the lymphedema risks etc. I feel as if I am reading every book in the library on breast cancer, but no one seems to talk about arm recovery other than lymphedema. Can anyone help? I am going through chemo and have a lot of emotional support, but no answers for this particular question. Thanks.

doris36
Posts: 16
Joined: Jul 2002

Hi Jennifer! I am 5 weeks out of mastectomy w/tram flap recon. I also have that tightness in my armpit. My plastic surgeon recommended a physical therapist who has been very helpful and insurance pays for most of it! You may want to look into this. The PT may be able to give you better exercises and also stretch you out. It has helped me alot. I've only gone 2x and I have almost gotten my full range of motion back. Good luck!

shirlann
Posts: 235
Joined: Oct 2001

Hi, Jennifer, I agree wholeheartedly about the physical therapy. But be sure you get someone who knows breast cancer treatment. since you are still in chemo and placing tremendous strains on your body, you need to keep at it but go very slow. You will need a lot of recovery time in the excercise department. Just be sure you go to people who know where you are and what you have. Gentle hugs, Shirlann

ldrunnrmom
Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2002

Hi!

This sound slike the sensation that I had with my right arm after the axillary dissection! And it was weird and it hurt- and it was hard to describe to someone else. I am now about 8 weeks out and my arm situation is so much better...that sensation did go away but it is not all normal with that arm yet either. The tightness I felt, btw, extended all the way down the arm to the wrist. I have very good mobility of the arm now and I massage it and keep active.

I do think if this continues that I would seek some professional help. I agree that the info about the arm after surgery and all is not real helpful. I have been looking for the same things- personal experience seems to be the best guide we have right now- which seems...good but also a shame. Why doesnt some agency have better info and guidance for us?

Best of luck! Hopefully your problem will begin to lessen in the next few weeks!!

Chris

AuthorUnknown
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cruf
Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Jennifer! Welcome to the site! I'm a physical therapist who is also a BC survivor. What you are experiencing is normal. You had tissue removed from under your arm. It doesn't take long for our muscles and ligaments and tendons to get tight. Initially, because of pain and fear of moving, we keep our arms against our sides. Even if you use your arm you're not lifting it above your head. The bands you see are tendons and muscles that need to be stretched to their origional length. You can do it by yourself with exercise but I recommend going to a PT. She/He will work you a bit harder than you will work yourself. I went to a PT even tho I had almost full movement.I also had a Tram Flap reconstruction. I was back to work and tennis in 7 weeks. I did not have chemo. Good luck. If you have anymore questions feel free to e-mail me here or at RPT1206@aol.com. HUGS!! Cathy

24242
Posts: 1417
Joined: Mar 2001

Hey Jen,
Doctors never really seem to tell much of anything until you start complaining of problems. Some women never complain thinking it is just part of the treatment plan and some of us just so sensative to everything, sometimes not even the doctors have seen in their time.
Banding tissue very painful in my case and could be felt across chest and down to elbow. I work hard to get full movement back and early and continue to make full movement my priority. That helped to break down the band of tissue and make the arm more mobile which can be a very big problem. Often mobility is lost, never getting better without exercise and constant resistance training on that arm.
Emotional support is all well and good except for the people there supporting us are unable to really know how we feel. I have been doing this site for over a year now and going to a support group for 5 months now and that has been the best support I could ever have found for myself. I think the key thing is to always be doing things trying to help ourselves overcome some obstacles, for that is all they are.
Good luck Jen
Be Good to yourself always,
Tara24242

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