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Cording after sentinel lymph node biopsy

Forums General Melanoma Community Cording after sentinel lymph node biopsy

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      My wife had Sentinel Lymph Node biopsy surgery two weeks ago, she got removed one node under the armpit and one in the neck (her melanoma is at the junction of neck and shoulder).

      For about a week now she’s had severe cording (Axillary web syndrome), she can’t even raise her upper arm to the horizontal. Although old belief was that cording would go away by itself after a few months, newer research shows it very often does not. You people seem to be mostly from the US, where I understand you’d get physiotherapy massage or stretches, but we’re in the UK where the NHS does not seem to recognise cording as a condition. Doctors she’d asked have mumbled about ligament damage but do not seem to want to take any action. My wife now does stretching and massaging on her own, and it has helped a lot (she used to have pain straight from her shoulder into her fingers, now it stops somewhere in the forearm), but she feels like it will never resolve everything given how hugely restricted she is in her movements.

      Any advice for her?

      I know it is a lot less vital than many other aspects of melanoma, but it feels like one thing too many for her to deal with at the moment.

      Thank you very much, and best wishes to you all,

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          Hi Jean,

          So sorry for what you and your wife are dealing with! Yes…at a certain point…one more thing IS one thing too many! I have had two COMPLETE lymph node dissections with an SLNB to both axillary basins. I am NOT recommending it. This was back in the dark ages of melanoma, 2003 and 2007, before we knew better. At any rate, recovery takes a minute!! I don’t think 2 weeks is long enough to have a complete recovery given what your wife has been through. To be honest, I was not familiar with the term you discussed, but after reading about it, it is a pretty accurate description of what I felt after my procedures! BUT!!! It does get better. Yes, I am in the US. NO!!! I was never offered PT or any other resources after either of my surgeries. On my own, I used descriptions of exercises and stretches published to help patients post breast surgery and I am certain they were key to my improvements. I found this PDF of some good ones for you:

          Forcing yourself to keep the affected arm out straight is tough. I think holding a broom or stick or tube of some sort is a good idea. Early on the “wall climb” was most helpful. Granted, at the start, I could only run my fingers up a few inches. But with perseverance, time, and advil (HA!!!) I began to see improvement! I bet your wife will too. I hope so! Hope this helps. Wishing you both my best. Celeste

              Thank you for your answer! Zoe has read your PDF, she’ll keep doing stretches and hope it’ll resolve in time!
                I had a melanoma removed WLE on my upper left arm and a sentinel node biopsy in June 2019. The first 2 weeks were tough, I took Motrin and Tylenol and spelt with an ice pack in my armpit. The doctor told me not to raise my arm over my head or carry anything heavy. There was cording when I went back to him after two weeks but it went away quickly. I’m not sure if water aerobics (arm exercises) or swimming helped it but my arm felt better after the exercise. Also wear blouses instead of t-shirts lifting your arm up hurts until are ready. Hope this helps.
                  Thanks for sharing!
                  Jean, I am not familiar with the term “cording,” but after having a tumor removed from my neck, I could not raise my arm on that side more than a few inches. The surgeon recommended acupuncture and predicted I would have full function back in three months. Two months of acupuncture helped (as did “cupping” to the shoulder muscles), but brought back only partial function. I then switched to physical therapy–very helpful–and full function returned after two months of that, about five months from surgery date. No problems there since. Good, good, good luck to you and your wife.
                      Thank you very much, best wishes to you too.

                      I experienced some pretty good cording after my 2011 axillary dissection. Probably was compounded by the fact I also had radiation to that basin. I remember standing sideways next to a wall and slowly walking my fingers up the wall. Down the road finding something to hang from where you can still touch the ground should help. Should get better over time. I still remember how crazy it was to feel that tendon or what ever it was run all the way from my armpit to my pinky.


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                          I just wanted to chime in. My primary was on my neck, right above my collarbone. I had a gigantic (to me) WLE and three lymph nodes removed. The area was very sore and movement was difficult. I am not familiar with coding. It took at least three month before I was not horrifying to look at and my mobility improved. I was careful in my movement and eventually did a lot of stretching. No one suggested Physical therapy and I don’t recall thinking I needed it. I can’t tell if your wife is experiencing something different but I can say two weeks is probably much too early to determine anything.

                          This experience was very early in my journey.

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