Home Exercises Following Axillary Node Dissection

Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Occupational & Physical Therapy
Last Modified: October 18, 2013

Share article


These exercises are designed to help you keep full and easy movement of your arm(s) following your axillary node surgery. You may start doing these exercises after your drains are removed. The exercises should be done 2-3 times per day. These exercises are not meant to hurt - do not strain, do not hold your breath. If you feel increased pain after exercising, stop until you have talked to your doctor or nurse.

1. Shoulder Flexion

Place the affected arm(s) on a table with your palm facing down. Slowly slide your hand away from your body until a gentle stretch is felt in the shoulder(s).

Hold 20 seconds.
Repeat 5 times.

Home Exercises Following Axillary Node dissection


©Visual Health Information


2. Shoulder External Rotation

Place your affected forearm and palm on the table, bend forward at the waist until a stretch is felt in the shoulder.

Hold 20 counts, and then return to starting position.
Repeat 5 times

Home Exercises Following Axillary Node dissection

©Visual Health Information


3. Overhead Stretch

Lie on your back. Slowly turns palms outward and lift arms overhead, sliding your arms along the bed or floor. 

Hold at the top for 20 counts, and then return to starting position.
Repeat 5 times.

Home Exercises Following Axillary Node dissection

©Visual Health Information

These exercises should not be painful. If you are experiencing increased pain following exercise, please contact your doctor or nurse. You may need a referral to a physical therapist.



I Wish You Knew

How cancer patients have changed my life

View More



Blogs and Web Chats

OncoLink Blogs give our readers a chance to react to and comment on key cancer news topics and provides a forum for OncoLink Experts and readers to share opinions and learn from each other.




OncoLink OncoPilot

Facing a new cancer diagnosis or changing the course of your current treatment? Let our cancer nurses help you through!

Learn More