Axillary Web Syndrome (Cording)
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?
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.
OncoLink is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through OncoLink should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem or have questions or concerns about the medication that you have been prescribed, you should consult your health care provider.
Information Provided By: www.oncolink.org | © 2016 Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania