Pain after axillary node clearance

Ten days ago I had a WLE with lymph node clearance, and I seem to be in more pain now than I was straight after the op.

My arm feels swollen and hot, but they have checked for infection and said I am all clear. Parts of the back of my arm are still numb, but in other areas and my elbow the pain is excrutiating. I am trying to do the post op exercises but the pain of them makes me cry. I am on 30/500 co-codamol four times a day but I can still hardly move. Things improved slightly when I had the drain out on day 5 but I still can only sleep sitting up and have to have my arm supported all the time.


I have an appointment about my results at the end of next week but in the mean time I am wondering if it is normal to feel like this? Will it just settle down eventually?


Thanks for any advice.


Hi Em

I had my ANC back in May and had a drain in for a week. After it was removed I had a slight seroma which eventually went down. I can’t offer you much hope I’m afraid, I finished chemo on October 17th and I am still sore in my op site. It feels like they took out a muscle and replaced it with a bit of wire coat hanger which is too short. I’m 6 months post op and wondering when it will feel better, my BCNs just say it takes a long time. Like you I had to support my arm for ages and could only sleep in my op side after about 3 months. Keep up with the painkillers until you go back for your results and speak to your surgeon then. It will take time but its best to check that all is ok. I hope all goes well with your results.

Good luck on your road to recovery. X

Thank you so much for the replies.


Anx56 - my daughter has been massaging my arm where I can stand it and stroking the rest and it does seem to be helping. I have ordered some emu oil (from Amazon) and am very keen to give it a go - it gets loads of good reviews, so thank you so much for the suggestion.

I hope you are doing ok after chemo on Friday and feeling well.


slyolddog - I can imagine how frustrating it was not being able to drive that new car! My current car is not automatic and my surgery was on my left arm so I guess I will have to wait a while yet, but when I do get a new (second hand!) car I will definitely be looking for an automatic. I am trying hard with the exercises and the basic ones are getting easier. The advanced ones are a little trickier but I really like the idea of marking the distances on the wall - reminds me of when we measured our height as kids :slight_smile:

I know you are right when you say it is more of a marathon than a sprint - unfortunately staying power has never been my strong point! This really is a life changing thing, in every way. I hope that your pain lessens soon - especially if you are also going to try the emu oil.


Thank you again for the replies.


I am 13 days post lumpectomy and sentinal node biopsy and experiencing something similar. The pain in the last few days has become worse. I spoke to my surgeon last night who is confident that it is just the nerves regenerating and nothing to worry about. He said it may take another couple of weeks to settle. 


I have found that I am also more swollen in the last few days but there is no sign on infection. As ‘normal’ as it can be - we appear to be normal (first time for everything).


Wishing you the best in your recover from surgery :slight_smile:

Hello there!  So great to read that I am not abnormal! I too have a lot of pain after op, 6 days after in fact.  I suppose I will have to be patient.   It was good to be able to get rid of drain.  Yes, exercises are difficult,  but I try to stretch when the painkillers are at their best, (as advised by BC nurse) but very limited still.  Have ordered the Emu oil as recommended by one of you. Will be interesting to see if it works but I have nothing to lose.  Not happy to read on this thread how long it might be before I can drive as my daughter is disabled and needs me, though am glad to say she boarded a bus ( with her walker but still) for the first time in more than 2 years the other day, to visit me in hospital!  Fortunately,  it’s my right side which is affected so I might  be able to drive a bit sooner.  Will let you know about the oil.  Seeing oncologist next Tues so I might get some other pain relief. Hope you all find the strength to cope. Thank you all for your insight.