Reducing mobility in shoulder and arm

Reducing mobility in shoulder and arm

Reducing mobility in shoulder and arm Hello all - I am new to posting on this site and I am hoping that someone may be able to give me some reassurance please.

I completed all my physical treatment at the end of July with radiotherapy, having had FEC chemo, followed by mastectomy and lymph node removal, Taxotere chemo and then rads. After my mastectomy, with the help of the exercises I managed to regain 100% mobility in my shoulder and arm - thankfully.

Now, though, I am struggling with it. My underarm skin broke down during rads and I had about 4 weeks of gel and dressings, but all has cleared up quite nicely now. However, during my rads and even more so after finishing the treatment, I am finding that my shoulder and arm are really now quite painful and I am losing mobility in both quite rapidly. The area where the breast was is also extremely tight and seems to be getting harder and tighter too.

I have started to exercise 4 -5 times a week with aerobic workouts (Rosemary Conley in front of the TV!!! - it works for me and I do close the curtains so I don’t offend my neighbours!!!), to try and lose some of the horrid weight I have gained throughout the last 14 months, and I thought that by stretching the arm and shoulder (gently) would help, but it just seems to make it worse. I don’t do all the arm exercises as they are so painful now. I have also started to suffer a lot with pins and needles in the hand, particularly at night, which can be really painful too??

Is anyone out there having similar problems - or perhaps had similar symptoms in the past? I shall continue to persevere with the exercises, both, in front of the TV and the gentle stretching exercises we are given post mastectomy. I mentioned it to the Rads team when I went in for a check up two weeks ago, and they just said to continue with the stretching, but it does seem to be getting worse.

Just thought I would ask if anyone may be able to give any reassurance. I have a fabulous husband, but he is the worlds greatest worrier and he’s starting to get paranoid about it, so any help or reassurance would be soooooo gratefully received please?

I have read many postings on these forums and I have to say that you are an amazing group of people who are soooo supportive - what fabulous indidivuals you all are. I look forward to potentially being able to help others if I can from here on. Thankyou in anticipation to anyone who maye be able to help me.

I wish you all the best and hope for sunny days for all of you


Physio ? Hi Fi,
I developed very bad pains in the shoulder and arm and could hardly lift my arm to open a door. I had to have physio for 18 months and
all is fine now.Ask the hospital and they may be able to set you up with a physio nurse on the NHS as otherwise it becomes very expensive.

Good Luck

Frozen Shoulder Hello there,

Thought I would mention Frozen Shoulder.

I developed this towards the end of radiotherapy and needed lots of physio to regain mobility. My shoulder froze so badly that I couln’t lift my arm above about waist height.

It was my right arm/shoulder too and so I couldn’t eat or wash my face with my right hand.

If you get your GP to have a look he will be able to tell you if it is something to do with the surgery or maybe a completely separate problem like Frozen Shoulder.


Fi I too have had exactly the symptoms you describe. As I have lymphoedema in the chest area (around mastectomy scar) & arm I put the symptoms down to the lymphoedema. However, my manual lymph drainage therapist said it isn’t anything to do with the lymphoedema and thought the problem is cording!! I saw Prof Mortimer who specialises in lymphodema and he is of the same opinion. I was of the opinion that cording happens just after the op but apparantly this isn’t always the case.

My MLD therapist who is also a sports therapist stretches the tight area and it really does help. I also stretch the surrounding area when it gets tight and although it is painful whilst stretching the area it really then does feel so much better.

I would maybe suggest that you go and get a medical opinion on this in case it gets any worse.

Take good care.

Arm pain When I had my surgery I was advised that my arm could become stiff and sore, to do the exercises advised and not lift heavy items. Thankfully other than a numbness under the forearm immediately after the surgery I had little trouble.

Some 6 months later I developed terrible pains in the opposite arm whenever I stretched it upwards or backwards which at times due to the wave of terrific pain leaves me speechless. I’ve had a xray, had 8-10 sessions of physio and an injection of steriods in the shoulder. But I’m still left with this awful pain in my upper forearm which now is repeating itself in my surgery arm.

I can’t do my bra up round the back, I can’t get jackets on without pain. I climb into my clothes rather than put them on over my head. Can’t get my arms up to hair remove, I feel stiff and painful and limited. I’ve tried medication pain relief, amytripline for nerve pain ( which made me put on half a stone in two weeks, I stopped this), cocodamol for muscle pain, ibruofen and paractemol. Nothing seems to help.

I’m on Tamoxifen as my cancer is oestregen positive and can only assume that this is the cause of the pain after reading other members comments on this site. I haven’t seen anybody oncology etc since April and my follow-up appointment is not til November. I have mentioned it to my GP who advised waiting until I see my surgeon in November.

Thanks to you all Hi there

Many thanks to you all for your reassurances and support. It’s kind of good to know that I am not alone (in a sick way - please don’t take offense!!).

I am due to see the Onc in November, but on your suggestions, I think I may get my GP to check it out for me as it really isn’t getting any easier with exercising and stretching. My husband helps me to stretch it out by pushing my arm back for me, but it really doesn’t seem to be doing any good.

I hadn’t thought about the pain being related to Tamoxifen. I get overall joint and bone pain, and therefore hadn’t put this into the same category - another thought to take to the GP I guess.

Do you know, I remember once that I used to ‘know’ my body and could tell when there was something out of the ordinary. I feel like I am having to learn all about my body all over again now as I never know what is ‘normal’ and what isn’t these days???

Anyway, I shall keep taking the cocodamol and make an appointment with my GP.

Many thanks again for your support and I wish you all well and hope for many pain free days to come for you . Good luck.


WoW! Hi,
I am amazed you are doing 4-5 days a week of aerobics so soon!! They say it takes a good two years for the body to recover from all this. I had a similar deal to you and it all finished March 2005. It has taken until now for the fluid and swelling to completely go. Whenever I try any decent exercise my arm gives up the ghost; pain, pain, pain. I now stick to vigorous walking for cardiovascular and am now starting pilates which is fantastic for strength and flexibility. It has been hard to accept that I can’t do all the sports I used to. It may be that this is too much for you too, for now. My hat is off to you for even being able to THINK about joining Rosemary at this stage in your recovery.
Good luck,

hi Pheonix Many thanks for your vote of confidence. I am sorry it has taken you so long for all swelling etc to reduce.

I have put soooooooo much weight on in the last 14 months, that I just have to do something to at least try to remove some of it. I noticed in another posting by yourself, you mentioned you have had your ovaries removed - in order to reduce the fat? Is that the case - I mean - can it help?

I feel like I am fighting a never ending battle with taking Tamoxifen too?

Your knowledge appears to be sound = perhaps you could let me know if it’s the case?

I have 2 small children (just approaching 4 and 2) and I desperately want to be out there with them playing and running around, rather than being a blobby mess sitting on the sidelines.

Best wishes to you


stiff shoulder if you are still getting stiffnes when you see your Oncologist ask for a referral to your local physio dept. You are entitled to physio on the NHS and they should be able to help guide you in what exercises etc. will help. Alternatively if you have a local lymphoedema service they may have a therapist that specialises in your sort of problems. Either way ask and don’t just try to ignore it.
hope this helps
Ismene (physiotherapist!)