Exercise and bad arm

Hi everyone! Please can I ask what is the latest research or information on exercise/weights/using and bloods and bp etc on your bc arm side ? I finished treatment in 2010 and then had 5 yrs tamoxifen. Was always told no bp or bloods to be done on that side ( had 7-10 nodes removed I think for testing) and not over use it with bag carrying etc .
Is this still the case with latest research? Finding it hard to find out as all Drs and nurses say different some try to do bloods there but I don’t allow it they have to use feet lol as other arm veins have gone from chemo.
I don’t particularly like after it work wise I carry stuff with it and use it as normal
I put on 2 stone a few yrs back and then lost it all within 6 months due to on going stomache problems (from
Chemo??) it has left me with awful bingo wings lol arms like sticks now seems no muscle at all, I’m 52 which I guess dosnt help!
Can I start to do some low weight at home with bottles or something does anyone know? Thanks for reading x

Hiya. I read somewhere (and not sure of source) but weight exercise on surgery side can reduce risk of lymphedema. I had surgery in Feb a single mx and anc I’ve never been told by anyone about any restrictions to my right arm and have been using it normally. You just have to be careful of any cuts which may get infected. It’s the infection risk that increased lymphedema risk.

Hi thanks for the reply yes we were told no lifting no heavy work no handbags carried on that side no blood pressure no bloods watch cuts etc

Hi lincs_lady, wonder if you are anywhere near me, I live in Spalding? I had a right side mx in 2017 after three lumpectomies and am now considering swimming again, if I can find a mx swimming costume and prosthetic. Anyone got any suggestions for where I could buy one of these? I am very lopsided at the moment, flat on one side and J cup on the other! May have equalisation surgery on the remaining boob in the future. I have a bit of lymphodoema on the surgery side as I had quite a few nodes removed during the various surgeries, all clear thank goodness. I would say any exercise that doesn’t involve lifting heavy weights would be OK. Take things slowly to start with and see how things go.

I was told to ‘spare’ my arm as much as possible in 2015. However I went back to Pilates and gradually built up over the last 3 years so can now use 1kg weights without issues. Two things happened- I read that in the USA they recommend graded exercise to build up strength rather than tell you not to use your arm ever again - and last Christmas I broke my wrist on the non-lymphoedema arm and just had to get on with it. All good so far - good luck! The one thing I can’t do is sleep on my bad side- horrible.

Hi Fuffs - you can get swimming costumes with pouches and also prosthetics from Nicola Jane - telephone order or on-line. You get their products without VAT as a BC patient which helps, and I tend to go for their discount weekends and sale offers when I can.

Hi, I’ve gone back to rowing, and go regularly to Physio. I think it’s good to start small and don’t bring on board any old expectations. It builds up quicker than you think. My Physio is very knowledgeable and has worked with other athletes with BC who wanted to get back to their sports which has also helped me to be more confident. I have a pain in my arm, side and chest. I pay a bit when I row but it’s not awful. There are lots of body weight circuits you can do and you can move from light bands to heavier bands to light weights, etc.

I don’t know what the research is - could never find good info. I got conflicting advice too and came to the conclusion it’s not a research priority and that most people with BC are older and not into serious sport.
I must say when I started rowing again it would totally wipe me out for the rest of the day. Now, it’s much better. When I’m out rowing I forget about it all so it’s a good holiday.
Good luck!

Hello Fuffs,
If still looking for a swimming costume, I got a really pretty, comfortable and practical one from Asda. As with all their post surgery items, it is online purchase only and you can collect at a store for free or have delivered. As for prosthetic, did you get a permanent one from tge hospital which you can also use for swimming? Mind you, I keep the first softee I got from hospital after surgery for swimming costume only (just a bleeding shame can’t swim at the mo!).Also, the permanent prosthesis I got from hospital can also be used for swimming. You can obviously buy prosthesis if you wish as well. I found NHS staff very generous and have ended up with two softees, extra stuffing and two permanent - one being a stick on!

Hello Everyone


I had axillary node clearance on my left side and I am left handed/armed. It seems the advice I’ve been given by my Breast Care Nurse is much like other people’s. It was as follows:


• Carry out the exercises in the Breast Cancer Care leaflet to regain arm and shoulder movement after surgery. Do these little and often but don’t overdo.


• Not exercising the affected arm is more likely to prompt lymphoedema than moderate, regular exercise and use.


• Gradually return to normal usage whilst being careful not to carry heavy shopping that will strain the damaged side. Test yourself out first.


• Incorporate the types of exercise in your BCC leaflet into everyday life, e.g. moderate stretching when putting washing on the line.


• When carrying out stressful exercises like ironing, do this in small spurts rather than one long session.


• Judge for yourself what is likely to strain the affected arm and what it can cope with. If, before BC, you used to carry fairly heavy weights regularly, work gradually back up to/near that level but be careful not to strain the arm, and limit the time for which you do anything strenuous.


• For all household and garden jobs, wear protective gloves and cover your vulnerable arm to avoid scratches and cuts.


• Keep Savlon cream and sticking plasters/surgical tape and sterile bandages to hand should you damage yourself and seek help promptly at any sign of infection, e.g. redness, high temperature, throbbing, swelling.


• Don’t let anyone take blood from or insert a canula into the affected arm. Neither should blood pressure be taken on that side.


• When playing with pets, use for preference the unaffected arm. Animal bites can be dagerous. Cats’ teeth are very high in bacteria (I think dogs’ are too). Scratches can be dangerous if the area is not protected by your lymphatic system.


Remind Nurses of where to take blood

When I had a bisphosphonate infusion recently, I had to have a blood test first (usual procedure) before going up to the Treatment Unit. The Care Assistant knew not to take it from my left arm, but she automatically took it from the vein in the bend of my right arm on the inside of the elbow. So, once I was upstairs in the Treatment Unit, I discovered that vein couldn’t be used for the infusion. A different vein had to be used otherwise the bisphosphonate would leak out onto my skin through the earlier puncture. Fortunately, the TU nurse was able to insert a canula in a different vein in my right hand, and fortunately, having old lady’s hands, the veins there are pretty prominent. I shall know next time to remind the CA to take the blood sample from my right hand so the vein in the crook of my arm can be reserved for the infusion.


Even with all these precautions, my BCN said we are likely to damage the vulnerable arm at some time. It’s not possible to use it sensibly and never damage it at all, but we should just be careful. I think she meant be sensible without becoming neurotic.


My understanding is that the above precautions have to be taken forever, on account of the permanent damage to the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes don’t grow back, so once they’ve been taken out that’s it.


Lincs Lady, I suggest you ask your GP and, if he/she can’t give clear advice, ask if you could be referred to a specialist Breast Care Nurse for, say, a one-off appointment (if they won’t give you more than one). I’m presuming you are no longer under a BCN on a regular basis. Different doctors and nurses might be giving you different views if they aren’t specialists.


I have read on the Macmillan site that patients who’ve had node clearance from both axillas can sometimes have blood taken from a leg.


As regards body-building/re-shaping exercises, I would request specialst advice before trying anything.


I hope that helps.



Thanks all
All very useful info
I still have my bc nurses card I guess I’m allowed to ring her