Axillary Web Syndrome (Cording)

Last Modified: July 22, 2007

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I had a lymph node dissection and have developed lymphedema (mild), but have a painful condition which my physical therapist says is called roping or cording. The nerves were injured during surgery. I cannot find relief and no one seems to know what to do. In the meantime, I have to have radiation therapy and cannot get my arm up [for the radiation treatments] because of this condition. Do you know anything about it?

Answer

Linda McGrath Boyle PT, DPT CLT-LANA, Cancer Rehab Specialist and OncoLink Lymphedema Team Editor, responds:

This is also known as Axillary Web Syndrome, and is most likely the result of a lymphovenous injury. This condition appears most often within the first week to 10 days after surgery. It is characterized by the development of palpable cords of subcutaneous tissue that extend from the axilla (armpit) into the inner arm. These cords can result in pain and a limitation of shoulder abduction. Our team works with patients with this condition, up to 3 times per week in some cases, in order to gently stretch the subcutaneous cords. This allows the patient to lift the arm and be able to receive radiation therapy. AWS is self-limiting and often resolves spontaneously. It is very important that the patient perform a prescribed home stretching exercise program several times throughout the day.


News
Also, double unrelated cord blood transplant tied to better outcomes in leukemia patients

Dec 8, 2010 - Individuals who donate peripheral blood stem cells or bone marrow do not appear to be at an overall increased risk of cancer, according to research being presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, held from Dec. 4 to 7 in Orlando, Fla. According to another study, acute myeloid or lymphoblastic leukemia patients who receive double unrelated cord blood transplants may experience better overall outcomes than those who receive single cord blood transplants. Other studies being presented address stem cell transplant procedures in treating various hematologic malignancies and highlight zoledronic acid's ability to improve survival in multiple myeloma patients.



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