• After having all my lymphnodes removed 4 weeks ago, I still have a tightness feeling in my upper arm and also under the arm. Will this sensation subside or will I need to learn how to tolerate the discomfort

    Asked by leesabee on Monday, November 28, 2011

    After having all my lymphnodes removed 4 weeks ago, I still have a tightness feeling in my upper arm and also under the arm. Will this sensation subside or will I need to learn how to tolerate the discomfort

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    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • danellsar's Avatar

      The tightness could be swelling and inflamation from the surgery. You should talk to your doctor about an anti-inflamatory (like motrin or advil) if you can tollerate them. Hopefully it will go away with time.

      almost 5 years ago
    • PetraW's Avatar
      PetraW (Best Answer!)

      I had 15 lymph nodes removed on January 12 this year as part of an axillary dissection. I found this procedure and its after effects was a lot more painful and uncomfortable than the mastectomy. For the first two months I had a lot of lymph fluid collect in my arm and the upper arm in the triceps area felt completely numb at times. My physician prescribed lymph drainage massages and they were very good. As part of this "physical therapie" I learned how to do these massages myself. Even though it is not as good when I do it compared to when the massage therapist does it, I could nevertheless do the massages as often as I needed to. I definitely did them in the evening in bed, before I went to sleep every evening. The idea is to get the lymph system of your upper body to move the fluid. Lymph fluid does not flow by itself or is pumped like blood. It has to be moved by your body motion or massages. When lymph nodes are removed, it creates a block, where the fluid can no longer flow through its normal channels. The massages help to re-direct the fluid. Over time the tightness will get better, especially with the massages. But there will always be times when you will feel the tightness. I started to do a lot of swimming over the summer and that made a huge difference. It helped on one hand to get my mobility back in my arm and also decreased the tightness. I am not a free style swimmer, I do breast stroke and that felt great for my situation. Now, after almost one year I can usually feel lymph fluid collecting, when I over do it, i.e. working in my garden all day or carrying a lot of heavy stuff. You also get used to the sensation. In general, it is quite amazing what you can get used to. The massage therapist also suggested to wear elastic support sleeves. It is something I did not get into. I live in Hawaii and simply could not get myself to wearing these things in the warm climate. Swimming and the massages were my solution.

      almost 5 years ago
    • justbreathe's Avatar

      I had seventeen lymph nodes removed and my doctor sent me to a lymphadema specialist. This was weeks after the surgrey. The speacialist worked with me on moving the fluid to other parts of the body (like massage) and then he showed me exercises to stretch the underarm area to releave the pressure that I felt.
      My insurance covered the treatments. Try to remember that your body has gone through alot of trauma. When they stretch that axillary nerve it takes time for the body to adjust.
      For me, it took about six months to feel better again. But flushing the fluid and the right stretches do make a differance.
      FYI-(I was a clinical massage threapist for thirteen years.)

      almost 5 years ago
    • Sunnydays' Avatar

      Had mastectomy 1/2010 and then axillary lymph node dissection (12 nodes removed, 2 were positive for cancer) 1 month later. Recovery from dissection was much more painful than from mastectomy. be patient. do all the exercises and take all the precautions you can learn about to prevent lymphodema. After 11 months, I've regained my range of motion and am lifting free weights and doing stretches to regain my strength - still not back to normal. Always wear gloves while washing dishes, be careful when cutting with a knife, don't get sunburnt, stay active, etc. I baby my arm to try to avoid lymphodema starting. Sometimes I get some fluid retention but so far not too bad. I keep as active as possible. Never got feeling back from my elbow, through my underarm, and across my mastectomy scar. Numb as can be, unfortunately. All the best to you!

      almost 5 years ago

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