3 weeks ago I had a mastectomy with immediate recon using LD flap. My query is that I am now experiencing a tightness under my arm and feel that it is also travelling down into my arm particulaly at my inner aspect of my elbow. I have read and re read about cording and also my consultant felt that it was cording. I have been doing my exercises and am just wondering if I should be doing them more frequently. At present I am doing them four times a day and my physio tellsme that I shouldn’t be increasing them any more at present but I was just wondering if anyone else has had cording and how long it lasted or how they managed to get rid of it.
I’m dreading the fact that I may be told that it may not go away. I wouldn’t be able to go back to work if my arm remains affected like it is and am dreading that prospect as I love my work as a midwife.

Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Wendy

I had a similar problem both before and after surgery - but afterwards it was really quite bad and the cording was very uncomfortable. I saw my physio and she suggested I massage the area very firmly as often as possible - but at least every 2 hours during the day. This really helped along with the exercises I was already doing, which she said to do more often.

She also gave me a different exercise which was lying down on the floor head supported by a pillow clasp your hands together down on your tummy then slowly raise your arms (keeping them straight) until you can’t get them any further (aiming to get them on the pillow behind you - if that makes sense. Once you have reached your limit take the good hand and gently push the bad arm a bit further.

That exercise (if you can follow it) was the one that really helped me - I can now raise both arms further than I could before surgery. The cording is still there - but much more flexible than before. I am currently having radiotherapy, so it is expected to tighten again - but I will be on to it.

I hope this helps.

Take Care

Wendy xoxox

Hi Wendy, i have cording too, its about 7-8 weeks since i had the same op as you, its getting easier, as said earlier, the exercises do help, i seem to get the worst pain between my elbow and wrist, but it is steadily decreasing, hope all goes well for you


Hi Wens

try using a hot water bottle on the site and massage gently with lotion is what my bc nurse advised it will go eventually…


Hi Wendy, I had cording after my WLE four years ago and it kicked in at about 2-3 weeks post op. Under the arm and then down my side to my waist. I could actually feel like an elastic band runing down my side - it is a real pain in both senses of the word!!

It cleared up after op but did kick in again after every chemo and 3-4 weeks after the rads, but was gone 2-3 months after rads . GOOD NEWS though once chemo and radio was finished cleared up completely with lots of physio exercises.Try standing infront of a wall and reaching points above your head and each day aim a little higher- you then feel like you are progressing a bit each day!!

Another tip - not sure if you need rads but if you do I had mine at St Thomas in London and they have a great support group there and the nurses were amazing and I had massage to help. I am a secretary for NHS and my office is opposite community physios so I used to pop in all the time for advice (God I must have been a real pain in the neck!!) but every so often if I felt I was ceasing up would sit and exercise at my desk - looked strange but who cares!

Keep exercising - hopefully will do trick.

Love Sarah x x

Hi Wendy,

I had a bi lateral mastectomy on 2nd July then an auxiliary clearance on the 26th July, i had cording bout 2 weeks after my second op, I did my exercises but only twice a day as was back at work. I found it really tight from my elbow to hand and very painful. But found doing the suggested exercises in the BC booklet very good. Now 6weeks on it has nearly gone. Still there under my arm and still find it hard to put my deodorant on, it still seems swollen. But I have no pain now and have full range of movement. I horse ride and started back at that within 10days of my 2nd surgery, not sure if i should have, but made me feel good!! Anyway think that sorted the cording out, so i guess do as much as you can and keep the exercises up in which ever form possible just try and stretch it as much as possible, without over doing it!!

Good luck and i hope it goes soon

Al xxx

Thanks everyone for all your information and advice. Have started increasing my exercises and have tried that one you suggested Sarah with regards to the walking hands up the wall. Also now massaging area and although remains tightened is definitely more relaxed when exercises and massage finished. Thanks for everything
Wendy xo

dont forget to keep doing the exercises even when the cording has gone…cos it sneaks back every now and then.
Chin up chica

Hi everyone… Just read this thread… I had my surgery 3 weeks ago today and last Friday i noticed this ‘cording’ under my arm… The following monday i showed my consultant at our scheduled appointment. I pointed it out to him and he said he had to SNAP it there and then! It was very painful and i had to be VERY BRAVE! If i’d have known he was gonna do it i would have taken a couple of painkillers before hand. It was worth it tho and i have to have it done again next monday. He held my arm out and pressed really hard with his hand in my armpit. If they are really bothering you, maybe you could try this. Goodluck X

Hello everyone, just read Julia28’s post about snapping the cording. I’m waiting for my mastectomy, but had a sentinal lymph node biopsy in July and developed cording after that - and my BCN said that I had to stretch my arm right over my head to stretch the cords until they snapped. Sounds dreadful, and took a lot of working up to, but it did work. It actually felt as though the cords were made of lots of fibres, and just a few fibres snapped at a time. Good luck! J x

Uck! I have heard of this and have been putting it off. Am off for rehab with intensive physio in Jan and will perhaps brave the snapping then. Must rush and throw (just post chemo and thoughts of snapping!)…

have just spent 2 hours in the bath massaging and stretching to try and “snap” the cord but i’m not brave enough to push too hard. has everyone been told it’s safe to do?
(i look like a raisin but still can’t straighten arm at elbow or lift above 60 degrees!)
have managed to get physio appointment next week so hoping they will do for me.