Lymphoedema in my Elbow??

I had my 2 surgeries at the end of 2012 followed by Chemo and Rads and now on Anastrozole - I have a question regarding what can happen to your arm from top to bottom and what problems having a node clearance can cause?

I only started having noticeable pain/discomfort and slight puffiness at the start of this year. when I saw the Breast Team in January the surgeon i saw at my year’s checkup stood there and told me that maybe i should start going to the gym/pilates to exercise the left arm. I was gobsmacked to say the least and I just knew that my hubby was sat on the other side of the curtain grinning to himself as i have never been to a gym! I dont have the energy levels for a start!

Since then I have had on/off pain and discomfort mainly in the elbow and about 6 weeks ago it was really bad, then my mum said one day “What on earth has happened to your elbow - you have a bruise the size of a plate”?! It frightened me when i looked and knowing the way i am, i didnt panick but said if it happens again theni will seek advice.

Well, today after 2 days of intense pain in my upper arm and elbow i woke up with another bruise the size of a plate!! So i rang my doctors and they offered me an appt today with a triage nurse which is a start! Has anyone else had unexplained bruising/discomfort in their elbow after a node clearance? I have been feeling off color for a week or so and i am now beginning to get a bit edgy about it. I will post again after i see the triage nurse and let you know what she says/does. I think maybe a blood test might be done as i wanted my Thyroid levels checked also. Thanks for listening!

Cheers, Michele x

Hi Seashell60, I had surgery last March and full node clearance.  Initially I had no problems at all and had full use of my arm and hand.  Following radiation I noticed that my hand would become swollen very easily if I ‘overused it’ by that I mean maybe knitting or typing.  I was advised to raise my hand a bit and also do some exercies like stretches.  I was told to do this by physiotherapist.  It does work but my hand still swells up especially if it is hot or I overuse it.  I also have a very sore shoulder and under the affected breast rib area again I feel it is due to fluid as it appears to be soft tissue.  I have joined a lymphodeama support group and I am trying to do all I can to reduce any discomfort or indeed to stop the situation from getting worse. 

It was explained to me that the body has a lot of nodes all over the body and especially around the back and front of the chest back area.  So I also do stretching exercises to encourage the lymph to be directed towards those area.  I was also told that any form of exercise which encourages muscle movement, the lymph does not have a circulation so need the movement of muscle to encourage drainage in the absence of nodes.  I have started the NHS Couch to 5K podcast, they are hard especially as I am still on treatment and do get tired but I have to say that the regular exercies is making me more upbeat and more positive about my situation.  Also I have noticed that my hand and chest area appears slightly better, I can now wear a bra which was a no no before doing the podcasts.  Try some form of exercies it does appear to work as the deeper breathing assists with drainage.  Hope that helps.  Take care

Well i saw the triage nurse this afternoon and came away fairly happy for now!! I explained my history up to now and when i told her i first had something going on in January and told her what the surgeon said (get more exercise in your arm and join a gym) she was visibly shocked!! She examined me and asked questions and then went and consulted another doctor (who i have seen before and who is well respected and always thorough) and when she came back she said they want a full blood test done, including my thyroid and other stuff ( or as she put it i will have a full MOT!!). She also said that the way i am feeling may indicate that because i am bleeding under the skin it is causing a slight anemia! Also she wants to rule out any infection or nasty bug in the blood! Meanwhile I was given a tubular bandage to wear until they get the results on Wednesday and they will both check the results and get in touch. So fingers crossed that I can find out why this is happening and what to do for it!!

Cheers, Michele x