Arm Flexibility before Radiation

rizzo15 Member Posts: 153 Member
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
For anybody who did radiation after a mastectomy, could you tell me how flexible your arm needs to be before getting radiation? I was warned that I need to be able to lay down and hold my arm straight up, the upper arm almost touching my ear for about a half hour. I've been practicing all the stretching exercises my surgeon gave me twice a day for a half hour each time...but it's a slow process to get that elbow all the way down to the floor. Getting the "bad" hand down to the ground above my head was is the upper arm that gets stuck a few inches off the ground. Luckily I've got 2 more months to stretch out those muscles as they need to finish my second series of chemo first. I heard they provide a little individualized plastic "cradle" to support the arm a little from what I'm reading from my radiation MD. Are they just trying to scare me to death so I'll be sure to be diligent about exercising? They have all stressed this exercise thing so often and so strongly that I'm getting scared I won't be flexible enough and radiation will really be painful. Not the radiation itself, but the "getting in position" part of it.


  • cruf
    cruf Member Posts: 908
    Hi! I didn't have radiation so I can't tell you how far you have to stretch but have you thought about getting some Physical Therapy? They can help you get the last few degrees you may be having difficulty getting yourself. If the MD didn't suggest it, you can ask. You probably wouldn't need to go more than a few times. They could give you pointers and a home program. I am a PT and went to a PT to get me stronger. It really works! Take care. Keep us posted. HUGS!! Cathy
  • llange
    llange Member Posts: 54
    I had a lumpectomy, not mastectomy, but the radiation treatments only lasted a couple of minutes, so I don't know why they would tell you a half hour. In fact, the radiation itself was less than 2 minutes, but altogether my time in the clinic was generally about 10 minutes, including changing. Also, in another 2 months your range of motion will improve dramatically, so you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Good luck!
  • ksfc
    ksfc Member Posts: 251
    The flexibility will come - it just takes time.
    The only time you'll lay like that for more than a few minutes is during the planning and plotting part of radiation. The treatments are FAST! I had one of those plastic "cradle" type of things and it made it much more comfortable, so actually your arm is more elevated up behind your head.
    Does that make sense? Diane
  • squeeboo
    squeeboo Member Posts: 29
    I had radiation after mastectomy. You won't have to have your arm straight up, but bent back, almost like you're puting your hand on the top of your head. When they set up the radiation machine, you'll have to lie in that position for 30-45 minutes. During the actual treatments, you'll only be there for 5-10. With 2 more months to stretch, you should be fine. Just keep the stretching up.
  • sandytrif525
    sandytrif525 Member Posts: 106
    Dear Rizzo, I had radiation after mastectomy. You will need to put your arm up, but only for about 15 min, that is all it takes. The long time is when you have to do your markings. Then it is about an hour. There is a cradle that you put your arm in and you kind of lay on like a body mold. The worst part of radiation is when they come in and just whip open your gown, draw all over you and whip your gown closed again. I had radiation to three areas, so three times they came in. No dignety. But you live through it. I was also told to use some vit. E cream on my skin and to use dio without aluminum. I found a natural dio called Tom's of Maine that did not contain any aluminum. One book I read suggested you mentally picture cold things, like being out in the snow or freezing at one of my kids soccer games. This mental thing was to help stop the burning. I think it must have worked because I only burned at the last three treatments. Sorry for writing so much. Hope it is helpful. Jesus Bless you. Sandy