Cording after axillary node clearance

Can anybody please tell me how long cording is a problem after ANC and if there is anything that can be done to help it to go quicker? Big question I know!! I had ANC three weeks ago and I feel the cording is actually getting worse - I have a particularly thick cord going from arm pit which feels very prominent and painful. I am doing my arm exercises religiously. Do the cords get better over weeks/months/years? I can’t find very much when I google it.
Thank you so much for any advice…

Hi Meggy,
from my experience, yes it does get gradually better over the course of a couple of months. Good to be keeping up the excercises,
but make sure you are not overdoing other stuff, lifting, hoovering etc.
I know its hard, but try to be patient. If there is not significant improvement within another week or so, have a word with your GP or BCN, you may be referred for physio

Thanks nannabarb. TBH I have been going back to doing ordinary stuff because I seem to be able to, and its less bother than asking people to do my heavier jobs (I’m not doing any ironing yet!). I’ll hold on for a week or too before I start pestering. I’m still going back for surgical follow up as my wound site needs draining - 300 mls last Friday, and I would think much the same this Friday. Maybe this fluid collection/seroma is making cording more uncomfortable…?

I had ANC on 28th Dec & have cording, you can see it & it goes down to my wrist, it’s soft & I felt it a week or two after surgery initially in my inner elbow but was told to keep stretching, exercising & massage but it’s now right down my arm & I’m restricted when reaching a high shelf or putting my ticket in the machine at the hospital car park !! I’ve been referred to physio , had first session yesterday , she has given me some stretching exercises & she said most cases can be helped back to normal , she explained its like shrivelled up cling film that needs to be gently smoothed out & showed me a few different exercises than the DVD . Personally I wouldn’t leave it as mine didn’t go away & you are only helping yourself the sooner you get the stretching exercises , however that’s just my experience & I had surgery a few weeks before you & I need to be ok by time i have Rads , … i had a group session with a physio first then was recommended one to one sessions as I didn’t have enough movement , it may be worth asking your BCN if your hospital does a group session first
sorry this is a bit long but hope you get it sorted
Karen x

Meggy, I had 2 nodes out and did my post op exercises, as per the DVD I was given. However, once I felt able, I started doing more and stopped doing the exercises. Then I developed cording. I felt unable to stretch my arm up at all. I worried I’d got a DVT in my arm! I mentioned it to my BCN who immediately referred me to a physiotherapist. She immediately recognised the problem and gave me 3 completely different exercises to do, than the post op ones. Although they were painful initially, within a few days I had stretched it out and have never looked back!!
speak to your BCN about referral to a physio
good luck
mandy xx

I had cording two weeks after ANC and my clinic referred me immediately within a few days for physio. She stretched it and did some deep massage which eased it a lot. I then massaged it really hard while watching telly, hooked my arm behnd my head and pummelled my armpit and down to wrist. It did hurt a bit but it went away within two weeks. I think it is one of those catch it early scenarios. It has been no problem for two years now.
Hopethis helps

Thanks everybody. I’m definitely pestering on Friday morning for an urgent physio referral!

I had cording problems both after my SNB and axillary clearance. I was told it was shriveled up lymphatic tubes that had dried up and gone hard like guitar wires. My Physio worked hard on snapping them and the sound used to make me cringe but the relief was immediate. Sometimes you get them running vertically from below the affected breast towards the stomach area.

HI maggie, i had mx and anc 7th dec. it took about a month 6 weeks to get a lot easier for me until i started doing less repititions and much gentler exercises but more frequent through the days and although painful massage the cord. it does get better. dont doo too much yet, its still early days. xx

I’m another person who benefitted from an urgent physio referral to help with cording. My hospital had a specialist women’s health physiotherapist who was very helpful. She showed my partner and my mum how to do the underarm massage-type technique as it was tricky to do on myself. It definitely helped and I’ve had no similar problems since.

All the best.

I also had cording which went from my breast area down my side. BCN advised an additional exercise which was stretching the arm up and back a bit like an aeroplane wing to “snap” the cord. I did this for a couple of days as part of my stretching exercises and it went.

Hi I also had cording after anc. I had a very good physio who did massaged it. You also need to do the am excercises every day. It took a couple of months but it did get better. It came back during radiotherapy and I had to start the excercises again and this worked.

Good luck.