Struggling with arm exercises

Hi Guys not sure if it’s me just being a wimp, but am finding the 2nd lot of exercises a bit hard going, have previously had a right mastectomy, then had lymph nodes removed on 2nd Feb. My biceps area feels quite weak, and I don’t seem to be able to raise the arm very well. I don’t appear to have any obvious bruising although the skin around my ribs and under my armpit does feel a little tight, have a little bit of swelling around my shoulder blade, but no pain. Don’t know if I am expecting too much to soon or if anyone has any tips for me, as I am keen to get normal movement back asap, so I don’t get any hold ups when I go back to get my treatment plan.

Hi Marie, it’s early days … 2 february is less than ten days ago, it takes a little longer to get your arm moving well again. Just keep doing your exercises as suggested by your BCN or physio (don’t overdo it), and things should get better. Will you be having radiotherapy? If so make sure you keep up the exercises during and after as well, as this can tighten things up a bit. Your BCN should be abe to advice :slight_smile: good luck.
I had my op mid dec, and still not all movement back, but working on it.
Ps no you are definitely not a wimp :slight_smile:

Hi ladies,

Here’s the link to BCC’s exercise DVD to help after surgery. It’s free of charge

Hope you find it helpful.

Take care,
Jo, Facilitator

Hi Marie,
As Christine says, it is still early days for you. I had my mx and four nodes removed in mid-November and I still have days when things feel tight under my arm. Do the exercises steadily and gently and I promise things will ease for you. I can reach above my head now but it took weeks of pushing a tiny bit more each day.
There are still times when I get a bit puffy around my shoulder blade but now I know it will go away again it doesn’t really bother me as much.
Good luck with all your treatment,

Hi, I had my nodes removed last June and it took a good month to really get a decent range of movement.
To be honest, my movement is now more restricted 4 months sfter rads, I can no longer lift my arm straight above my head, but ive also been rather laps-a-daisy on the exercises, I need a shove to get going with them again!

Duplicated, xx

It IS early - be patient with yourself and KEEP DOING THE EXERCISES! For life, I mean… I did them religiously for the first month + and to be honest, my range of movement was brilliant… so I eased off a bit during chemo when I was feeling rough… and then the lymphoedema set in… cause I’d stopped. I can get it under control if I do the exercises every day… and if I annoy it so that it swells again, I have to do them twice a day to get it to behave. No-one told me (or I didn’t hear perhaps!) that if we have lymph nodes out the exercises are for life… I wish I’d known… so I’m passing it on!!! Lympoedema is much easier to prevent than cure, so keep going gal, keep going… I do the exercises before I come out of the bedroom in the morning, otherwise they don’t get done, now that I’m back at work… Keep going…Jane

Yes, definitely being too hard on yourself! It took me 6 weeks before I could lift my arm right up even though I did the exercises relifiously every day. After about 4 weeks I was feeling very upset and remember ringing the helpline. Then all of a sudden it improved and then by week 6 I got full movement back.

Everyone heals in their own time, so sometimes we need to be patient with ourselves. I’m sure you will get there and the important thing is to do them every day if you can. Elinda x

keep exercising gently when ever possible.
my treatment finished a year ago.
exercise definately moves any excess fluid buildup,seromas and cording are uncomfortable. try to keep moving.

I have recently had an oily cyst near the op site - any advice on this .it has been drained once (had a biopsy to reassure me

I was feeling same as you had wle and snb I was fine. The had anc on 25th jan and only in the past cfew days I can lift my arm.
I was told to keep taking my diclafenic and paracetamols and they have helped.
Don’t worry you will get there take your time.

Took me the best part of a year to get back what I would call full range of movement, with help from physios and very patient gym instructor. Two years out and it’s still not perfect. But then as a slightly younger candidate (49 at surgery) I was very flexible before BC and have high expectations - but I see no need to drop those: just because i had cancer, it doesn’t mean i have to look and move like a ninety year old!

Be patient, there is a lot of pressure and natural anxiety to be ready for radiotherapy, but don’t overstretch too soon (the first week or two) or you can interrupt the early healing process of damaged lymph vessels and raise the risk of lymphoedmema. Wish someone had told me that :((

Tip: if you do the exerises lying on your back, gravity is then on your side, so instead of making it hard to lift your arm over your head, this position makes it easier. Specially if you grasp the smallest size can of sweetcorn (170g?) or mandarin segments (Don’t exercise too hard or you will smash them) work your way up to standard can of beans or peach-slices. Also in that position you use different muscles in passively resisting the arm from falling than in actively raising the arm when standing up, the front of shoulder is almost totally relaxed.

I had my mastectomy 4 days ago but Ax clearence 3 weeks ago and still have my drain in following mx, i am trying to do exercises but am finding it a bit hard. Am i expecting too much too soon, i can move it but not as much as i think i should x

yes Megsmum! You ARE expecting too much of yourself… four days ago? Ax 3 weeks ago? Two lots of surgery, two cuts… poor you! and your poor body… gently does it… why do we find it so difficult to be gentle with ourselves? Our bodies take time to heal … frustrating, but true. Years ago, we’d have been in hospital for a couple of weeks, now we expect ourselves to bounce back and get on… do a kindness TO YOURSELF every day!!! Jane

Be patient. I religiously did my excercises and I remember after 3 weeks of my 2nd surgery to remove lymph nodes I struggled to extend my arm fully, pegging clothes out and getting dressed was still painfull but in time I got full movement back. Do your excersises and in time your strength and movement will come back. The back of my upper arm is still numb but this does not affect my movement. I played squash before my surgery and my arm felt strong enough early December to play again(my surgery was mid August) though I felt tired from chemo. Keep trying and take every thing 1 step at a time.

Had full auxiliary clearance, 18 nodes 4 cancerous. been doing exercises, been on antibiotics for seroma infection after draining.
Having cording problems which i am stretching out, painful but exercising making the arm moveable.

PROBLEM, lay in bed last night didn’t feel well, as i rubbed my arm to try get relief i felt what i can describe as a tube running vertical under my breast, as i lifted my arm the tube got more prominent on my rib area.

Don’t think its right does not feel right, can cording go that far down the body?
Going to phone BC nurse tomorrow to ask, just wondered if anyone see had this?

I had exactly the same and it was cording through the breast.
Uncomfortable and frightening when you don’t know what it is…
I empathise with you.
I had physio and manual massage to help it along, eventually but I dropped the exercises because it felt like ‘it’ was going to snap!
Wrong plan of action!!!
Do keep up with your exercises even though they feel weird and unsafe because without that general stretching I was without arm manouvreability for nearly a year!
I protected my upper arm/armpit/breast area of cording far too much and so it became stiff and unused! I think this happened because I didn’t want to bother my BCN after countless other side effects after mx and my GP had never even heard of cording through the breast.
Do hope you speak to the right people and get the best advice for your condition. It is worrying isn’t it?

Good luck.


Take a couple of paracetamol about an hour before you exercise. It helps, and little and often is the key. You’ll have difficulty later on with stiffness in the shoulder, weak bicep muscles etc, if you can’t keep up the the exercises.

I do ‘walking fingers up the wall’. Support yourself with the other hand on the wall. I do it beside a door and measure how far I get to the top!

As Jo BCC says, the DVD is really good.

Hugs and xxxx

Thanks for all the advise, am continuing with the exercises, and yes it doesn’t feel as scary now, though my body still feels weird at times. I wasn’t aware that these exercises were for life so thanks very much for that tip, I am sure I wasn’t told by BCN.I go back to see connsultant on Monday, when hopefully I will be told what my next step in treatment will be, as I am 44 I think it will definitely involve chemo, but hopefully there won’t be anymore nasty surprises.
Thanks for all the support you lovely people it really does help.

I had cording like that just after surgery and it settled without any special intervention-was doing ordinary arm exercises as mentioned above. I did show it to the breast surgeon and BCN at the time though.

I had a mastectomy on the 26 th Jaanuary and 16 lymph nodes removed of which 3 were cancerous, I was then rushed back to theatre on the 6th as I developed a haemotoma. I am swollen again - but don’t know if it’s a seretoma or a haemotoma!? Anyone know. Georgie