help lymphoedema

does anyone out there now way my arm has begun to swell after radiotherapy i have completed 19 sessions and my arm has begun to swell nurse says have to wait 6 weeks untill anything can be done anyone know of any excercise to help it go a way by the way i am new to this site please help


Is it your breast care nurse who said this? My arm swelled about 2 months after I finish RT and my BCN referred me to my surgeon to make sure it wasn’t a recurrance who confirmed it was lymphoedema. When it didn’t go down I asked my GP to refer me to the lymphoedema clinic. I think it is unwise to wait 6 weeks. Did she give you a reason for the wait? I would certainly take it futher asap. If it is lymphoedema, the sooner you get a sleeve on the arm and some advise, the less likely it is to get worse.

I agree with Kelly, my arm began to swell month after rt and bcn referred me straight away to lymph clinic, problem was appointment was for 4 months time. Quicker it gets looked at, the better.

Hi rollo

Sorry to hear your arm is swelling. Which nurse was it who said you had to wait 6 weeks - and why? If it was a breast care nurse, she should have made sure that you got to see your sugeon/onc or an appt at your lymphoedema clinic ASAP. As Lynni and Kelley have said, it doesn’t get better on it’s own and the earlier you get some treatment, the better.

I think exercises are best done wearing a sleeve (Fizbix has posted some good ones on this board when you’re ready for them), which I am assuming you don’t have yet. However, swimming is really good for lymphoedema, so if/when you have the medical all-clear for a dip, I’d thoroughly recommend that.

Another activity which you can do whilst waiting for a sleeve and, hopefully, some treatment, is deep breathing (but not too many at a time or you’ll get dizzy!) which helps to move lymph fluid away from your arm. Shoulder rolling also helps.

I would suggest also, that, in the meantime, you are as ‘nice’ as possible to your arm. By this I mean:

No heavy lifting, not too much repetitive movement. I would say also to keep the skin well moisturised, elevate/support your arm when resting (especially the elbow), wear rubber gloves when washing up, avoid tight jewellery/watches on that hand, avoid hot baths and spas, drink plenty of fluids, make sure your bra isn’t too tight and that the straps are not too narrow, don’t sleep on your ‘bad’ side…(I’m guessing that the hopsital would have already told you not to have injections, BP or blood draws on that arm (or hand)).

Oh yes, try to avoid being bitten, scratched, stung (use insect repellent) or cut on that arm and if you are, disinfect it straightaway. If you are a gardener, wear gloves and long sleeves.

The above are just things you can do while you’re waiting for treatment (and afterwards) to try to stop your arm getting worse and make it more comfortable.

I also think it would be a good idea to chase up the reason for the delay. Has anyone said that they ‘want to see if it settles down on its own’ to you? If they have, you may have to make a bit of a fuss and get seen more quickly.

Good luck - let us know how you get on, won’t you?



I have just been diagnosed with lymphoedema which occured shortly after my second surgery and the lymphoedema clinic nurse last week said the sooner you are referred, the better the prognosis as they can get on with treating you. I should ask for an urgent referral to the clinic. Also, the lymphoedema suppot network do some good leaflets and have a welpful website.

All the best, Maggie.

thank you everybody