Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. Men can also develop breast cancer, although this is rare. This group is for anyone affected by breast cancer to get together, ask questions, share experiences and support each other.

Possible to reduce lymphodema in arm?

KiwiCardi
Posted by

I've suspected for a little while that I've started developing lymphodema in my affected arm and my side just below the armpit - I had a mastectomy and lymph node clearance. It's just been feeling a bit weird, sort of tight and tired, so I went to the lymphodema nurse and she did the measurements. Sure enough, my right arm is slightly bigger than my left - not a huge amount, but too much to be just normal variation due to my being right-handed.

She told me to increase my lymphodema exercises to twice a day, and to add in activation of the lymph nodes in my groin, stroking from my armpit down towards the groin. She also ordered me a compression sleeve, but said I don't need to wear it all the time - just to put it on when I'm doing physical work like housework or gardening.

So my question is, has anyone actually been able to improve their lymphodema and reduce the feeling of puffiness? I've been doing the exercises twice daily for about a fortnight now and I think I can see some improvement, but it might be just wishful thinking!

Carolyn28
Posted by

hi  

I haven't had to deal with lymphedema yet, Google seems to have two spellings for that, lymphoedema, looks more medical. I'm sure someone said they had tried brushing but I could be imagining that.

The exercises should help, do you have a physio that specialises in post breast surgery issues ?  The one at the Marsden is brilliant, I always thought physio was a bit airy fairy but what she did was nothing short of amazing.

I heard that turning the shower between hot and cold works but you have to be committed to try that.

hugs

Carolyn

xx

toxophilite
Posted by

Yes, I've heard someone mention brushing, to do with encouraging the lymph fluid to move to where it can drain off into the rest of the lymphatic system.

There have also been a couple of studies showing that exercise with light weights could be beneficial. Will look for those tomorrow from the laptop.

Xx

KiwiCardi
Posted by

Quick thanks for the replies as I'm off to work, but I'll read about that brushing when I get home.

Dee xx

susanneg
Posted by

Hi KiwiCardi,

I developed lymphoedema in my left arm early on before surgery as a result of the cancer invading my lymphatic system ( I knew nothing about the lymphatics before this). I was measured, including the amount of fluid, and given sleeves and gloves. It has taken quite a while to find the right size and make. I wear these from morning to bedtime. I was given some exercises - mostly deep breathing, using a soft ball in my armpit, and pumping the hand and arm while sitting. I was made to understand that manual drainage couldn't begin until after radiotherapy and active treatment had finished as there is thought to be some risk that any remaining cancer could be moved through the lymphatics. So although I was first referred to the Lymphoedema clinic in July last year I only started having drainage in May.


So far I have had two entirely different types of drainage at the clinic, one by an independent practitioner and the other by the nurses. The independent one works on much more of the body and feels more like a regular massage, the nurses focus just on the area concerned e.g. The breast or the arm. The general principal in both is to open up the lymphatic areas away from the affected part and to encourage the lymphatic fluid to find other outlets. It may be that the gentle sweeps with the edge of the hand that my nurses have shown me are what is called brushing but they haven't referred to it as that. I can't say that I've seen much reduction in swelling but regard it as ( hopefully) a way of preventing it getting worse or hardening. The really important thing is to guard against cellulitis by moisturising the arm and guarding against cuts or bites. 


I do hope yours can be managed well before it develops any further. I have to say it's been one of the hardest things for me to deal with as it is such a visible reminder of what has happened - one complete strangers are only too ready to ask about. You might want to have an answer ready prepared if you have to wear a sleeve regularly..


Susanne.

susanneg
Posted by

Meant to add that the Occupational Health consultant I saw about returning to work has advised my university to provide me with voice recognition software and other adjustments to reduce strain while using computers.

Susanne

Kacang
Posted by

Hi Dee  How irritating - just when you thought you were getting over it all! 

I haven't had arm lymphoedema but I did have the 'football' on the chest fluid problems. The physios tried manual lymph drainage and taught me how to do it - gradually stroking across from bad side to good side etc - have they shown you that? I was also told to keep my arm elevated whenever possible. 

I was also told to do arm exercises with light weights (not more than 1kg) but I think that's not universally accepted as a good idea - some say lift no weight - even shopping - with that arm. Anyway I do some exercises with light weights and haven't had a problem so far. 

Someone has had success with kinesio taping - I think it's  but she's away at the moment. 

Best

teresapolo
Posted by

Sorry to hear that. I have been doing body brushing to encourage lymphatic system since diagnosed. I have to be careful round right side as just post op and radiotherapy so very sore. 

You can see how to do it on you tube videos and can buy the bristle brushes online. 

It makes sense to me to help your body and I brush quickly every morning, and my skin feels so much better for it. As I understand it the lymphatic does not

Pump like blood in your body and exercise helps to move it but being it been compromised by lymph node removal think any help cannot do any harm. Teresa xx

lynnwad
Posted by

Hi dee

I had it slightly in my actual breast and had acupuncture it can help so maybe worth speaking to an acupuncture clinic it helped me 


Good luck xxx


Lynn ❤️

KiwiCardi
Posted by

Thanks for all the advice everyone!

I was wondering about the amount of work I do on the computer, and whether I should wear the sleeve when I'm doing that. Today I went doing exam invigilation without the sleeve as I thought I would just be walking about or sitting, but the first thing I had to do was rearrange desks and chairs in the room - as I was doing it I was thinking, I probably shouldn't be doing this and it hurt under my armpit afterwards.

I wore the sleeve yesterday while gardening, but when I took it off I had a rash on the inside of my elbow from getting overheated. How do you handle wearing it in the warmer weather?

kacang

I was also told to do arm exercises with light weights (not more than 1kg) but I think that's not universally accepted as a good idea - some say lift no weight - even shopping - with that arm. Anyway I do some exercises with light weights and haven't had a problem so far.

I have some armband weights that live on my PC desk so I can just grab them and do a few exercises while things are downloading or taking their time. I'll keep using those as I do feel they are tightening up the flabby parts in my upper arm where I have no feeling back yet.

I'll get onto that brushing business though. I'll try anything to at least prevent it from getting worse, even if I can't make it any better!

Crystaljuju
Posted by

KiwiCardi

I've suspected for a little while that I've started developing lymphodema in my affected arm and my side just below the armpit - I had a mastectomy and lymph node clearance. It's just been feeling a bit weird, sort of tight and tired, so I went to the lymphodema nurse and she did the measurements. Sure enough, my right arm is slightly bigger than my left - not a huge amount, but too much to be just normal variation due to my being right-handed.

She told me to increase my lymphodema exercises to twice a day, and to add in activation of the lymph nodes in my groin, stroking from my armpit down towards the groin. She also ordered me a compression sleeve, but said I don't need to wear it all the time - just to put it on when I'm doing physical work like housework or gardening.

So my question is, has anyone actually been able to improve their lymphodema and reduce the feeling of puffiness? I've been doing the exercises twice daily for about a fortnight now and I think I can see some improvement, but it might be just wishful thinking!

i had lymphoedema in the breast but it didn't affect my arm.

the only treatment that worked was kinesio taping. You can have this on your arm. It's becoming very common now but odema clinics are still slow to use the technique I suspect due to training. 

I would recommend it, it solved my odema after around 4 months.

love

julia xx

toxophilite
Posted by

Here's the links to studies on weight training I mentioned earlier:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812181429.htm

https://www.verywell.com/how-lifting-weights-may-help-lymphedema-430195

My physio has cleared me to train with up to 6kg weights (not immediately, but I am to build up to it over the next few months). My job is very physical too, I'm convinced that getting back to what I was doing before (ie what my arm and shoulder are accustomed to) is proving to be of benefit.

xx

jmp
Posted by

Hi Kiwi Card,

I had Lymphoedema in my op breast following a Lumpectomy, then  Rads(2013-14)  then got Cellulitis, followed by Lymphoedema in breast.  I had a GP referral and saw Lymphoedema Consultant Professor Peter Mortimer at The Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. He prescribed Penicillin V antibiotic  which I took for a few months to get rid of the Cellulitis infection. He also recommended wearing non wired sports bras for support. I wear M& S two pack £29:00. He told me not to do anything like tennis ( I don't anyway) and to avoid lifting too heavy loads on the op side. 

I saw a Lymphoedema Practitioner via a referral from the Oncologist and once the Cellulitis had gone she did some MLD on the area. Gradually it got better over about 18months,

There is a lot of useful information at www.lymphoedema.org    Judithxx. 

lynnwad
Posted by

Hi Julia 

Just being nosey and incase mine comes bk in my breast where how do I apply the tape to the breast ? Xx


Love Lynn x