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I have cording and wondering what I can do for it at home....
67 Posts
Hi everyone,
Essjay‍ i am specifically tagging you bc I am sure you had cording and gave me the tip to look out for it.
I’m pretty sure I have it - after two weeks of making progress with my stretches I’m now stuck and feeling pain when I try certain exercises esp the “winging it” one and any that involve putting my elbows out to the side.
I am seeing a physio Wed but until then anything you or others can recommend? I can see it stretching across my armpit - it makes me feel queasy when I look at it or try to touch it!
13 Replies
416 Posts

I am sorry about, but can relate to, the problems you are having with cording. My cording started on day 2 after my bilateral mastectomy in Nov. 2019 and as I received little pre and post information I did my own research and found from this amazing site that it probably was cording which indeed it turned out to be. I also did not know that cording and lymphatic draining problems can happen even when nodes are not removed but may have been damaged. As well as exercise, which helps both with rom, cording and lymph drainage, I would also ask your therapist about massage to help with possible adhesions and lymph drainage. Of course not everyone is affected and I hope that you are not but I wish someone had mentioned it to me as I am now having problems with lymph. Never knew just how important the lymphatic system but, is as a Scottish friend used to say, "Weel ye ken the noo"!


p.s. My post ended up on your profile page so I have copied it here.
67 Posts
Thanks MCoaster
Yes this wasn’t mentioned to me either or noted in the pamphlet I was sent home with. I only knew about it from the CCS Exercise booklet where it’s mentioned and from Essjay‍ who had mentioned it. Thanks for the tips. I will ask about massage. I have coverage for this now, never used to so I will use it! I’m excited to go see the physiotherapist as I really want to get my movement back and start gradually getting back to my exercise routine. I’m entering my fourth week now of healing and feeling a lot better - except for this darn cording!
1375 Posts
Hi chrys21‍ Im sorry you are having problems. A physio may be familiar with cording but likely you need a referral to a lymphedema specialist - your family doc can refer you.

In the meantime some massage - rub across the ‘cord’, which will help to break it up.

I hope your physio can help with the tightness. I still tighten up into my armpit and have to regularly stretch. I’m slightly disabled by a labral tear in my shoulder (unrelated to cancer) which limits my mobility, but I’ve learned to massage the tendons into my pectorals to keep things from stiffening too much when I can’t stretch my arm enough.

Good luck with the physio. Essjay
67 Posts
Thanks Essjay‍ the CCS exercise book recommends seeing a physiotherapist for cording so I had not thought it was related to lymphadema - I will look into a lymphadema specialist as well and see what the physio says. Thanks so much
Hello chrys21
I suffered with terrible cording after my mastectomy. The surgeon did a procedure that was a quick snap on the cord. It was incredibly painful and did the job immediately, however, it came back the next day. They referred me to a Physio who specialized in this and her approach was a slow and careful one. She taught my husband how to depress and hold right on the cord following up from wrist to inner armpit along the cord. He just held (squeezed) right on the cord then slid up a bit and repeat all the way up.it was painful but not unbearable and it really worked. We had to do this each day for about 4-5 days. The cording has not returned!!!!! I hope this helps. Cording is so awful!!
Oh and I forgot to mention: he had to hold the squeeze for a few minutes before moving on!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sorry you have to suffer with this! As if your mastectomy wasn’t enough,right?
I had to have multiple visits to my massage therapist for help with my chest/armpit region. She used a technique call Graston Therapy. It required quite a few visits, which were sometimes painful, but it really helped. Exercise and stretching on my own, along with massage really sorted me out. I hope you get relief soon!
239 Posts
Hii chrys21‍,

I have been seeing an occupational therapist who also specializes in lymphedema. She has been doing myofascial release on my cords and it has made a tremendous difference. I also see a physiotherapist who gave me a bunch of exercises to help with my range of motion. I learned how to do lymphatic drainage massage so I do that every day. I also got a compression sleeve and glove. The key is to meet with the right professionals. I am in Toronto, and from the Survivorship Clinic at Princess Margaret I got a referral to Toronto Rehab for OT and PT. They changed my life, so I know that if you see the right people, they can do the same for you. Make sure you pursue this because help is available. But too often we women are left floundering after surgery and/or radiation and we have to advocate for ourselves. Good luck.
67 Posts
Thank you Inca (Michelle)
I don’t know why I didn’t see your message as I usually get a message when someone has replied. Thank you for the tips. My physiotherapist did something like that and it felt so good. Mine has gotten a bit better, but it’s still there.
67 Posts
Thank you Treepeo
I’m in Toronto too. I’m going to look up Toronto Rehab.
I am going to a physio I had used bf but she had never seen cording before so I was educating her about it. She has given me some exercises to do but they are mostly extensions of the exercises I was already doing from the CCS book.
That said, the cording hasn’t gotten worse but it’s still there and I’ve gone twice.
It’s surprising that few know how to treat cording when it seems to be a very common side effect from lymph node removal. I am happy to say mine has not returned since my wonderful therapist helped me with it!!
1 Posts
I had cording after my BCS and removal of 4 lymph nodes (3 positive so now undergoing chemo). I massaged and stretched but it didn't seem to make a difference, then a month later I realized it was gone on it's own! I have the axilla surgery to remove more nodes after the chemo and will be asking about a lymphedema sleeve fitting so I'm prepared if it's needed. I'm in Newmarket if anyone has a recommendation...
1817 Posts
Hi jackie999
I hope chemo is treating you well. Or as well as can be!
Like you, I had a sentinel lymph node biopsy initially (with my lumpectomy (8 nodes removed, 4 were positive). Minimal cording that went away on its own. Then I had a full axillary node dissection after I finished chemo in 2018, and I've got some nasty cording that simply won't go away. I also have mild lymphedema.
In my humble experience, I did learn that you can't get fitted for a sleeve until you've officially been diagnosed with lymphedema. One thing you can do now though, which I wish I did, was get baseline measurements now, before your surgery.
CDT Therapists are best at doing that. There are some listed here, on the Lymphedema Assoc of Ontario website: https://www.lymphontario.ca/
Then after your surgery (and are you having radiation, too?), get measured again. Then it will be easier to see if you've developed lymphedema. (It's possible you won't!). Technically, it's considered lymphedema if the measurements of the affected arm are 2cm or greater than the other arm. To me, though, that's too much and you'd want to start dealing with it before it hits 2cm!
Some symptoms of lymphedema include:
  • A full or heavy feeling in the affected area.
  • A numb, achy or stiff feeling in the affected area.
  • A feeling of tightness in the skin.
  • Less movement or flexibility in the affected area.
  • Trouble fitting into clothing or jewellery or shoes in the affected area.
  • An unusual swelling in the affected area.

When is your surgery? Wishing you wellness for that!!
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