Cording exercises

Cording After Breast Cancer Surgery

In General, Health & Wellbeing, Lucy by Lucy Teear2 Comments

Post Surgery Cording Physiotherapy

I going through beast cancer for the second time, for the second time I’m suffering from cording and my motivation for writing this post is to highlight what it is and how it can be avoided or at least how to treat it, knowledge is king ….

So, what is cording? It’s is a condition caused by the surgery to remove the axillary lymph nodes (underarm lymphs). Which feels and looks like tight raised cords running from the armpit to the elbow, sometimes as far as the thumb and restricts the mobility of the arm. 6yrs ago after my last breast cancer surgery I had just that and was left unable to straighten my right arm, leaving it stuck at 90%… Imagine Captain Hook!!

In a previous post I was urber smug about not experiencing cording this time round and honestly believed I’d managed to avoid it.  After surgery you’re discharged from hospital with an exercise sheet but frustratingly the importance of these exercises and the consequences of not doing them are not explained. I’m an old hand at this breast cancer lark and should know better, when my drain was removed I really believed I was using the arm correctly. It was perfectly straight and no sign of those horrible sticky out cords, happy days….WRONG! Fast forward 2wks and I tried reaching up for something and horror, I couldn’t get my arm above shoulder level. I’ve a golf ball size lump in the armpit and it’s blooming painful… darn it I’ve got cording again! This time it’s restricted to the armpit so not as bad but my scar’s raised and tight, and there lies the problem I should have been doing specific exercises to keep the skin supple and prevent the area around the scar constricting (I had initially uploaded a photo but I can’t shave my pits and seriously no-one needs to see that!)….

Resolving Cording with Physiotherapy

Enter a pretty special physiotherapist called Tracie Bolger from Riverside Physiotherapy  – 6yrs ago this wonderful women spent half a day relieving me of my Captain Hook look! I’ve since moved to South Wales and Tracies’ practice is in Northwood near London so not the most convenient location but I wouldn’t see anyone else. Tracie not just an incredibly experienced physiotherapist, mending the body brilliantly but I always come away feeling both physical and emotionally fixed. An hour of combined treatment with Tracie manipulating my arm and me working exercises under her instruction and the increased mobility is liberating. I left armed (Boom Boom!) with a series of exercises to complete daily and a follow-up appointment for next week. I arrived a wee bit fed-up and got back in the car feeling FAB (Tracie I LOVE you)

My biggest frustration is this should be part of the breast cancer treatment, I’m fortunate as I’ve the means to seek out private treatment and have access to a great physiotherapist but what happens to women without that option?

What’s Next?

Thursday I’ve an appointment with the surgeon for the pathology report, this is when I find out the grade of cancer and if the margins are clear or whether I’ll be needing further surgery (fingers crossed not!). I’ll have my mate Gail with me, who really makes me laugh and always super positive so in great company – I’m completely blessed to be surrounded by strong, warrior women.

Right, at my boys this evening and can hear Amy watching trash in the other room, which is one of my guilty secret so off to join her. But before signing off, if you’re in need of a GREAT physiotherapist then I can’t recommend Tracie Bolger and Riverside Physiotherapy enough, she really is something special, also specialising in sports physiotherapy. Teear rates her highly after sorting an injury he sustained training for a marathon last year, takes quite a lot to impress Teear (seriously it does, fussy sod!)

Night Lucy Xx

Cording Treatment



    1. Diane Richardson Clarke

      Hi Julia – thanks for getting in contact. I will pass this on to Lucy (she has been away for a few days). I know she got professional advice when she had the cording, it is probably worth you speaking to your GP or consultant too. Lucy will be in touch soon.

      Diane x

Leave a Comment