Lower arm pain after ALND

Hi. It’s 4 weeks since my re-excision cavity shave and ALND. Both have healed well and the scars are looking fine.

I am worried about the pain in my arm. The 3 separate breast care nurses I spoke to at my hospital said it sounded unusual. I have pain near my elbow down to my wrist. It is extremely tight and I feel the pain when I stretch or fully straighten it. They said it couldn’t be cording as it doesnt start at armpit. There is a puffy area of about 2cm² near wrist and on inside of the elbow joint area. I’ve been doing a lot of exercises from the post surgery pamphlet. The one where you walk hand up the wall is excruciating. I can get my arm above head if it is bent but not straight. My shoulder movement is good. The breast care nurses have told me to wait the 2 weeks now until I see the consultant for my results. I wondered what it could be and if there is anything else I could do to improve it.

Thank you

Hi bluesatsuma

Thanks for posting.

It sounds as if you have had a difficult time since your re-excision cavity shave and axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) even though the area has healed well.

It’s difficult for us to say what is causing the pain, tightness and puffiness you describe and whether it might be cording. But it is important to get it checked out. You say the breast care nurses have told you to wait until you see the consultant in two weeks’ time. But as the pain is making it difficult to do your exercises, I wonder if you could call them again and ask if they can see you sooner. You could also ask if it might be helpful for you to be referred to a physiotherapist.

When you restart your exercises, it can sometimes be helpful to take over the counter pain medication beforehand. Again your breast care nurses can advise further about this.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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