How long does cording last?

Hi. I developed a seroma two weeks after full axillary clearance and had it drained three times. It’s still there slightly but they wouldn’t drain it again. Five weeks after surgery I developed cording which I still have (ie had it for the past two weeks). I’m waiting for radiotherapy and I’m worried I won’t be able to get my arms above my head by then. It’s too painful at the moment.

I’ve been referred to an NHS physio but don’t have an appointment yet. Tried to book with a private physio but she’s booked up for next week. I’ve been doing exercises and massage that I’ve found on various websites but don’t know if they’re going to be enough.

How long did it take you to get rid of cording and did you just deal with it yourself at home or use a physio? Thanks.

Hello country girl,

Well done for getting this far with your treatment So sorry to read that you have cording just before your radiotherapy, I think what you’re doing is quite right with massaging. I was also referred for physio but after massage in for a couple of weeks I actually didn’t need physio because I managed move it. So keep up the good work and massage as deep as you can. I know this can be painful, but this will possibly help a lot.

Also as regards, moving your arm for radio, it was suggested that I took two Paracetamol 20 minutes before treatment, this did help, but please to get this checked out by your team before hand.

Wishing you well, please come back to let us know how you’re getting on. Wishing you lots of luck going forward

With the biggest hugs Tili :rainbow::pray::rainbow::pray:


Hi Countrygirl

It’s good you have been referred to a physio. If you go private, make sure the physio is trained/practice on cording as not all are - they often specialise.

Where I live, we have a specialist cancer physio and I was referred to them when I developed cording. The physio manipulated me on the table and the cord ‘popped’. Actually, it was a student who did the honours and her face when it popped :rofl:

I was given exercises that it I still do if a little cording appears (yep, 3 years later it’ll show once in a blue moon) or if my armpit is tight. Like now!

Exercises - I AM NO PHYSIO, THIS IS WHAT I WAS GIVEN TO DO. Affected straight arm up as high as you can, directly above you (call this 12 o’clock). Hand bent over and flat as if you were balancing a tray. Do little pulses from the shoulder. About 20.

Then same with your arm out at 11 o’clock - 10 pulses in that direction. Then bring your arm closer to your head and very slightly over to the side. Another 10 pulses in that direction.

Do several times a day. You can do sitting upright in a chair.

I hope you get sorted soon x


18 months on and my cording is still there, although mine has never reduced my movement, it just feels tight in certain positions. I had physio were they gave me a different set of exercises to do and they also massaged it but mine has never popped, I still do the exercises in the hopes it will go eventually and doesn’t get any worse.

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Hiya, I developed cording almost immediately after a sentinel node removal 9 weeks ago and you could see the cords from under my arm to my elbow and then my wrist. With massage and “stretching” my skin I could actually hear it popping and over the last 2 weeks it has settled. I was surprised at the radiotherapy planning that my elbows were only just above shoulder level rather than any higher and your hands just resting above your head. Fingers crossed for you that it improves quickly as I know everything that is different from the “norm” just brings panic and more worry x

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I got rid of it myself by doing lots of shoulder stretching exercises. Sometimes the chords make a snapping noise I have been told but mine didn’t.

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Hi @countrygirl1

My cording started with chemo in my forearm, then after my mastectomy with my armpit and bingo wing was numb. NHS physio gave me these exercises to do every day:

It eased the cording and helped with mobility

Hope this helps and good luck with your next steps xxxx



I haven’t had cording but still 10 months after surgery have pain stretching up. I had bilateral lumpectomy, so both sides affected. I continue to do the post surgery exercises and am awaiting a physio appointment.

I did find it helpful to do the scar therapy online zoom with a cancer charity called Penny Brogn based near Bristol but covers the U.K… Kate Oldham doesn’t advocate for deep massage but gentle strokes,pinches, rubs, flicks etc. There is a possible 1:1 available for rehabilitation work,

You could also chat with a BCN nurse on 0808 800 6000

Hope it helps.:smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thanks everyone. Lots of helpful advice. Some exercises there I haven’t tried. Also good to know that I won’t need to get my arms straight up over head. Think I might be able to manage them resting on top of head when the time comes for radio. x

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@naughty_boob. That’s helpful. Hadn’t heard of Penny Brohn. Thanks.

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Hi Countrygirl,
I developed cording soon after mastectomy and sentinel node removal. I did attend physiotherapy, it isnt pleasant but the idea is to put your arm up and gently massage and stretch the cord under your armpit ( you could see my cord stretching tight when I put my arm out ). The physio would work the cord and gradually move it slightly left and right. I would feel a bit sick at the time and could hurt a little but gradually afterwards could see it diminish. It didn’t last longer than a few weeks. Hope you get your appointment through soon but don’t worry cording looks weird and is restrictive but with correct manipulation and exercises it will go. Ive recently had surgery for an expander implant in my chest and I suspect the cording is back a little but not like before. I just keep giving it a stretch and massage. Good luck!


Hi @charma. Thank you for the advice. I did get an appointment for yesterday with NHS physio but got an early morning phone call cancelling it due to staffing problems. Been rearranged for 11 June.

I have been trying to massage the cording under arm myself but not sure I’ve been applying enough pressure. It’s painful. Probably better if someone else does it. I’m also massaging down whole length of underside of arm as pain goes down to wrist. Will keep at it. Also doing a lot of stretching exercises.

Had radiotherapy planning appointment two days ago and managed to get my arms above head without too much trouble so that’s good. Start treatment mid June. Thank you. x

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Just a word of advice, I managed to keep cording under control after my mastectomy last September. I stretched everyday, even through chemo, and had no cording. As soon as I started rads in May it started despite my usual maintenance stretching, so it was necessary to up the regime. Even then, it became bad enough for me to seek help from physio. I saw her last week and she gave me some slightly different stretches, which have helped a lot.
Good luck with your rads. It was a breeze for me other than the cording x


@isitreallyme. Think I’ll keep my physio appointment next week even if I’m a bit better. Can’t hurt to go and it might make the radiotherapy sessions more comfortable. Also, as you say, I might get some different exercises that will be more helpful. Thanks x


You’re welcome! Good luck with your further treatments- you are doing great.