Advice please on Lat dorsi recon as muscle still contracting

I was told the latissimus dorsi back muscle would forget it was a back muscle and stop contracting when I moved in a way that would normally make it work…this is fine in one side (done March 05) but the other side (done Sept 06) still thinks it’s a back muscle and keeps contracting. Not only uncomfortable but looks horrid in a tight top as crinkles up, though a better party trick than wiggling your ears!
I was told to avoid anything that made this happen and so am restricted in what I can do on the other side as have lymphoedema and tight tissue due to rads, I am struggling as this is not improving at all and feels like it may be getting worse as often twitches and pulsates for no reason which is a bit disconcerting.
Do any of you have this problem?
Do you know of any treatment? I was told I could have ‘cognitive retraining’ but the referral was unsuccessful as is very specialised and the dept referred to did not do this so am phoning round to try to access treatment.
Any advice would be gratefully received!

Hi - I only had my reconstruction in June this year and have been told it could take months. Nothing was explained to me how it would feel. I woke up one morning shortly after surgery and thought - that’s why it feels like it does - it still thinks its a back muscle. When I cough and sneeze it jumps. Horrible when changing gear when driving.

Sorry no help but at least I know I’m not the only one. I am still soooo uncomfortable, not painful, just uncomfortable. It keeps tightening up and sometimes feel like I have a stone under my arm. I still have some fluid which hurts but can’t have anything drained because on chemo. I have found the breast nurses are very supportive in that they never ring to see if I’m okay. I know they are busy and there if I need them but I am not one to bother people and just carry on.

Liz xx

Hi Buff and Liz - I had my recon in September and have only had this happen once. I am still under the physio and seeing her today so will ask for all of us how long it goes on for and if anything can be done? Also quick question - Liz how much fluid do yo have still? After my back drain came out at end of September (after 2 weeks of chucking out loads) my back filled up quite quickly and hasn’t really gone down. It is not uncomfortable and my nurses are waiting to see if it goes by itself - it has been static for about 4 weeks now - do you think it will go by itself or have to be drained? It isn’t loads but when you look at me from the front you can see the bulg on my back at the side.

Will get back to you later with hopefully an answer!

Sarah x x x

Hi Sarah - be great if she can help us !

My fluid has gone down a lot since June but I still have some which starts on my back and comes round the side to my tum. My drains were in 8 days because 2 of them were draining about 70mls a day but they said the drains had to come out because there was a risk of infection after that time. It was the size of a hot water bottle for many weeks but when I saw the consultant at 2 weeks after op he wouldn’t drain it. I showed the breast nurse a few weeks after but because I am on chemo they wouldn’t drain it so I don’t even ask any more.

I only saw the physio twice and was discharged because I was doing okay butI think I shall have to phone for an appointment as from my elbow up and around to my shoulder is very tight. I have ordered a book for Essential Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors but it takes 6 weeks to come as it’s from America !

Look forward to getting back on later - I am off for second Taxotere today - and absolutely dreading it ! xx

Liz xx

Hi BrendaL

Breast Cancer Care produce a booklet on exercises after breast surgery which you may find useful while you wait for your book to arrive. It can be found at the following link:-

I hope you find this helpful

Kind regards

Breast Cancer Care

Hi Buff,

I had a bilateral recon using the muscle and skin from the back 5 months ago, in the beginning it was very uncomfortable as it was both sides, I had fluid drained off twice from either side. Now things have settled down nicely, I am well pleased with the results, I have found when I tighten my arms against my sides the muscles in my new breasts contract which doesn’t look very nice but doesn’t cause me any grief. The other wierd thing is when I’m rubbing bio oil into the scars it feels as if someone is prodding me in the back - the surgeon said this is because the muscle is still attached to its original site and the brain still thinks its in your back.

I do feel that these experiences as only minor and because I am so happy with the way I look now feel it is a small price to pay.

Hope you ladies are all ok

Take care


Dear All

I had an LD flap without an implant in January 2006. I still have contractions in “the breast” and pain assocaiated with it. I am beginning to understand that it is unusual and that is why you are not told about before hand. However you are not alone!

My surgeon in June cut/ spilt( ?) the tendon that joins the LD flap to the humerus under the arm. It gave me great relief . The elastic band feeling has gone and I can breath again. However I still have a party trick ( an expression I do like!).

We are now talking about cutting/ splitting the nerve. I am going to see the surgeon in a couple of week to find out more.

I found an useful article in a medical journal. Delayed Division of the Thoracodorsal Nerve- A useful Adjunct in Breast Reconstruction. Annals of Plastic Surgery. Volume 59 , Number 1, July 2007.

Is there anyone out there that has undergone the procedure of the nerve division? I would be interested to know how you got on.


Sally Ann

Hi girls - saw my physio and she didn’t seem to have any answers - just said that it would hopefully stop over time!!! So no further forward. Luckily I am not sufffering with it as much as some of you and I wonder if this is because when I had my surgery my tendon was split in 2 before muscle was tunnelled through armpit (my dad read through all my notes in hospital before being told off by the sister!!) I also had nerve blockers put in and have not really had any pain even after surgery so perhaps these are things you could all ask about?

Sally Ann - perhaps I have had what you are about to have - I am still very numb on my back and armpit 2 months on and they think this is permanent - not sure if this is normal - but I am not in pain so doesn’t bother me - just rather cautious when shaving my armpit which I know I shouldn’t be doing but I hate creams!!

Good luck

Sarah x x x


Hope you don’t mind me joining in - I had back flap recon done about 6 weeks ago. Starting to have pain in my arm at first just on the underneath of the upper arm if I press it or when I stretch arm out fully but now it is all the way down to the wrist - hurts to pull my sleeve up and if I press the skin on the arm it dents and retains the dent for a while - is this normal?

Love Lenise XXX

Hi Lenise - pain sounds like cording of lymph nodes possibly - also if skin stays dented there may be fluid retention so I would ring your breast care nurse to possibly arrange some physio for the cording. It can be really painful and uncomfortable but mine did go with physio.

Good luck

Sarah x x x

Hi, i had the same op done in june on my left side, mine contracts if i put any weight at all on my left arm, i find this very hard to cope with, it always feels tight, and i no longer have any feeling in my back where the muscle was taken from, i have never had or been offered phsyio, only the booklet that comes from BCC with the excercises in, i can no longer get a bath as i am unable to weight bear on my left arm to get out, as i find the contractions just too much, even when i have no bra on i feel like i have one on my left side, and as mentioned above, when i sneeze it contracts, so i’m not sure if it ever goes away, one of my sisters had the same op done and has no problems at all, but then again, she lives in a different authority to myself, and was offered phsyio.

Alison xx