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Is this normal - pain in arm month after node removal

mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

okay I admit I wasn't sure what to expect after lymph node removal. I had 10 lymph nodes removed, 4 were positive, during surgery 4 weeks ago. My arm has been rather sore, feels bruised all the way down the underside to my elbow and since yesterday it moved even further down into the underside of my forearm just below the elbow. It isnt' swollen so I didn't think it to be lymphedema. The muscles on back just below my armpit also feel bruised.

I have up until now just assumed that this is because of the lymph node removal and it will take time to feel better however it has made no improvement since surgery. Is this all normal? How long has it taken for any of you to recover from the lymph node removal, actually for the pain to go away or is this just a condition to deal with?

Also when any of you have this kind of problem or problems with lymphedema who do you see? The breast surgeon?

Thanks for the support.

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

and physical therapist after your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon allow. Yes it is normal but you need to consult with your doctor. Sorry that you have to deal with it. It will gradually go away. Everyone is different. I took me almost 12 months to feel better. i got prescription from breast surgeon for consultation and massage with physical therapist who specialized in breast cancer patients.
I wish you feel better soon,
New Flower

mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank-you New Flower for this information. I do have an appointment with my breast surgeon in the next few weeks for another follow up and will probably wait until then. It is good to know that this is more or less what is expected (not good to have it though).

Now I have more of in idea of what questions to ask as well. Thanks

aztec45's picture
Posts: 757
Joined: Jul 2009

My armpit and right breast were sore, numb, and would swell off and on for several months after my surgery. My oncologist said that it was normal. But you should talk with your doctors to make sure you do not have some infection or something else going on.

Take care.


contrail's picture
Posts: 129
Joined: Sep 2009

Alot of what you are experiencing is normal, but it could also be lymph-edema. My breast surgeon had me see a physical therapist that specialized in lymph-edema within a month of my mastectomy. She taught me some massage therapies to do myself to help combat the possibility of lymph-edema occurring. I'd check with your surgeon and see if he can recommend someone. The sooner you get started the better. Connie

GrandmaJ's picture
Posts: 209
Joined: Nov 2009

I had 8 lymph nodes removed, 4 being positive. Luckily, I have had no problems except for a little swelling the first week which was relieved when they drained out some fluid. Call your surgeon....Hope you feel better soon.


Posts: 285
Joined: Nov 2009

I only had 2 removed and had burning pain down the back side of my arm for about a month. It was very sensitive to touch. The incision itself didn't hurt much at all, but the rest made it difficult for me to move my arm. The sensation gradually faded, but it isn't completely gone yet...i still have some residual...very faint though and I'm back to full use of my arm.


Kat11's picture
Posts: 1931
Joined: May 2009

I still have pain and burning in my arm. They say it could last for a year or more. More than likely a nerve was also cut and that also takes time. Sorry to say it's all normal.

canoegirl's picture
Posts: 169
Joined: Dec 2009

Good to know it's normal, but bummed that so many of us go through this. It's been 3 weeks for me and my arm hurts like a bad bruise and burns. I've also started getting swelling under my arm from my breast to my back. Worried that it's lympademia and hoping it goes away. My arm hurts, but isn't swollen at all.

NAN033's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Feb 2010

My Surgeron & Onc both say this is normal The burning feeling and stinging is caused by nerve cutting during node biospy. They assure me it will go away eventually. It has been a month.
Slight progress. I can say the swelling has gone down but still have some.

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

That is totally what my surgeon told me. It has been 4 weeks since my surgery and i have full rang of movement in my left arm with some pain off and on. I make sure i keep moving my arm periodically during the day.

Posts: 34
Joined: Dec 2009

Actually, my arm pain began approximately a year before the BC was even discovered... I accidently found the lump uner my arm as I raised my arm and laid my hand under my arm while I was praying, asking God to relieve the pain.. After the ultra sound was ordered to check out the lump under my arm, they found the tumor in my breast. Had the lumpectomy Nov. 16, 2009,they removed 12 lymph glands and only one (the one I found) was malignant. The pain in my arm continued on after surgery, until unbelievably last week, it dawned on me, I have no more pain in my arm... I am so THANKFUL. Just guessing, but tend to think your pain is just post-surgery pain, and it will go away in a few weeks... I had swelling and had to have some fluid removed approx. 2 wks after surgery. My arm swelled also. The arm swelling has now gone away, but still have swelling in my breast, and my nipple remains inverted (which did not happen until after the surgery.) Saw my surgeon Monday for my check -up. He says I am fine, and that this is typical, and told me to not worry.... I'm trying. ha.ha.
Be Blessed!

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

I had an ultra sound after i found a large lump in my breast in November 2009. I had had a mamography in May 2009 which came back clean or as they stated within normal range. I was diagnosed Dec 30th and had surgery Jan 5, 2010. I have since had PIT Imaging just last week which came back good (no hot spots. Too bad they couldn't do that first prior to all the biopsy. My nipple is also inverted (after surgery) and my breast is still tender around the area where the tumor was removed. Every so often I get pangs of pain that doesn't last long. Do you? My surgeon has also told me that the pain have is typical.

You mention that you had pain prior to having being diagnosed with BC. I had been having stinging pains in my breast but just took as being the norm for going through menopause. I have always had some breast pain and tenderness ever since i started my period. Wish i had been more persistant with the doctor.

Have you started Chemo yet? I have my first cycle next Wednesday. I am little concerned on how i will do.


Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

I had a lumpectomy 4 weeks ago and also had 14 lymph nodes removed 3 being postive. My arm was also very sore and numb with pain(the back of my upper arm). It is still somewhat numb but with arm exercises and stretches the soreness has eased up. I still have some tightness in the armpit area and down the inside of my upper arm. I have pretty much full rang of movement now though. I had an ex-coworker tell me that her arm (after her mastectomy) took nearly a year before the there was no longer any pain. I still have a lumpy spot under my armpit(where the lymphnodes were removed)though, but I have been told that is is normal.

If you are worried and concerned about the pain you might want to make an appt. to see your surgeon just make sure but that is your call. It might ease your mind.


mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

I had a friend do some lymphatic massage, it was sooo gentle and soothing. She also told me I had a great deal of heat in my shoulder. Anyway the next day it felt so much better. She is going to come over and do somemore. However I have this one small spot below my elbow on the inside of my arm that really hurts when I straighten my arm, it feels like it is bruised or the tendons are tight. There is no swelling however I will ask my doctor when I see her.

Also my armpit is very sinewy, the other one where no lymph nodes were removed is very soft and fatty.

what our poor bodies go through, it is quite miraculous that they heal in the way they do.

Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2010

Yes it's normal I still have pain and it's been six yrs after node's removed.I Had ten removed and six positive.

scout5000's picture
Posts: 94
Joined: Apr 2009

I had a mastectomy and 9 lymph nodes removed a year ago. The back of my arm from arm pit to elbow is numb and it tingles if I touch it. The lymph node scar is still tight and tender. My mastectomy scar is just numb. I try to make sure to stretch my arm everyday to keep it loose. But there is really no pain in that area any more. I think the numbness is permanent but you get used to it. The pain should go away. Good luck.

TrSquirt's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: Dec 2009

I had surgery December 23rd and again January 4th and so my drains were in for along time. My surgeon sent me to a Physical Therapist that is a lymphademia specialist. They have done wonders for me but I still have the exact pains you are talking about. Having your friend massage you is on the right track however remember there is nerve tagging that happens and that is what you are most likely feeling in your elbow. The PT's pull and stretch my arm from below the elbow to the shoulder trying to break those nerve tags. That makes night and day difference. It does feel like muscles or tendons but it is probably the nerves. When they get cut during surgery they dont know where to go so they attach to the closest spot and usually that is wrong.

If you go onto U-tube there are some massage technics for Lympademia. It is important to learn how to open up your lymph glands before the massage. That is on some UTube sites also.

They have me do small circles below my neck by the end of the shoulder blade. Then move to the sides of my neck (10) circles each then under my arms 10 times and then run around my stomach toward the belly button. Should do this before and after.

Oh and Exercise is important also, I learned that you have to keep a muscle stretched for atleast 2 minutes before it really helps you. I guess at 2 minutes the muscle finally gives up and relaxes.

I hope some of this helps and remember everybody is different. I would call your surgeon and get a referral and not wait for the appointment. No reason for you to sit in pain.

Take Care, Trudy

Posts: 76
Joined: Nov 2009

I had lymph node dissection 1/11 when 9 more lymph nodes were removed. They tested negative. I have had this burned/bruise feeling under my right arm between the elbow and shoulder since. When i STRETCH MY ARM UP, It feels like a tight ligament from my arm pit to my waist. There is a sore spot on the side of my waist where this pulls. My initial surgery was 12/8 when I had lumpectomy and 3 nodes were removed. Two was positive. This was not as bad and I had no problem with my arm. 1/21, I had port inserted for chemo....my whole chest was sore. the port was inserted under collar bone on left side. Now I have 2 sore sides. Each surgery has been tougher on the body. Today, I feel better. I am still sore, but not as much. This post was very helpful. Thanks, all!


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