Lymphedema Symptoms?

Hi just wondering why my hand and arm have been aching recently. I can’t see any swelling or anything untoward it’s just been aching on and off in my hand and arm. Could this be related to lymphedema? I had my last surgery 2 1/2 years ago on that side which was reconstruction although had my mastectomy 5 years ago.
Any advice would be much appreciated.

Dear Ruby

It may help to talk things over with someone on our Helpline. They will be able to offer some information and support. Opening times are 9-5 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. The number is 0808 800 6000.

Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

I had a WLE and AND end of November, followed by a total mastectomy December 12 last year.

I just went to the local lymphedema clinic for assessment and advice, having similar symptoms to yourself.

My arm aches from time to time, especially when it is at my side when driving, or if a carry anything like a bag of shopping. I also sometimes feel I am a bit swollen in the chest and axilla/upper arm, although it looks pretty normal.

The therapist carefully measured me, and found no measurable swelling, but did explain that even the sensation of fullness, swelling, aching, or the arm just feeling “not normal” was enough to make a diagnosis of early lymphedema. I think they call it sub-clinical at this point.

She was pleased I had gone there though, as prevention and/or early management is far better than trying to deal with it once it is established, so my advice to you is see if you can get referred for a proper assessment and advice sooner rather than later. Certainly don’t wait for established arm swelling, as it might be much harder to deal with at that point.

Worth checking out your symptoms. Maybe a call to your Breast Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Team could be helpful? At my local hospital there is an L-DEX machine available which can be used to carry out a simple, painless test to check extent of fluid build-up in each arm. Might be worth enquiring if this is available for you.

All the best.

Thanks Morwenna, PuffyWhiteClouds & Janet (BCC) for your advice. I’ll get it checked out. My chest area is a little puffy but I’m guessing that’s due to my recent reconstruction at the end of 2012.