Numb & painful arm post axillary dissection

EstherchEstherch Member Posts: 3
edited August 2018 in General discussion
hi! At the beginning of Aug I had a lumpectomy, reduction & lift and sentinel node biopsy. I recovered really well from it but the biopsy showed cancer in the sentinel node so last week I had an axillary node clearance.

Under arm is numb - which is weird but ok. But the skin between my elbow and under arm feels super sensitive, tingly and really painful - like something is rubbing on it. It gets more painful during the day. 

Ive spoken to the Dr who said it was probably a result of the nerves being stretched.

But.... it’s horrible!!! Has anyone else experienced it? How long did it last? Any tips to reduce the sensation? I find a heat pack helpful but don’t want to over heat the area in case I draw too much lymph there. 

I start radiation in a couple of weeks. 

Thank you for any support, ideas or identification!! I just want to feel I’m not alone with this! 


  • kezmusckezmusc Member Posts: 1,315
    Hi @Estherch,

    It is a very weird sensation after this surgery.  Totally numb in some spots and super sensitive in others. Puffy, like you have a pillow stuck under there as well.  Down the back of my arm was the same as you, hyper sensitive at times.
      It takes a while for the nerves to get themselves in order again.  I had like little electric shocks that came out of nowhere as the nerves started to refire. 
     Keep doing your exercises.  I found doing a lot of the ones with your arm above your head helped a great deal  And I do mean a lot of those exercises. Three times the amount they tell you and I also decided to hand paint a timber ceiling,  That sorted it right out. LOL
     It helped with the fluid drainage and strength.  I had full strength back in that arm within a couple of months. 
    The sensations take a long time to get back to somewhat normal but should start easing of within a few weeks  I am nearly two years post op.  Most of the feeling is back to pretty normal.  I still have a numb spot along the scar line but the rest is not too bad at all. It still a bit weird with light touch but getting better all the time.

    All the best lovely.

  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,441
    It sounds pretty normal and it does improve. I had to wear the non-adhesive padded wound dressings tucked in around my clothes because the pain was so bad. It settles down although you may not get sensation back everywhere.  
  • EstherchEstherch Member Posts: 3
    Thank you both!! Ok I’ll crack on with extra exercises!! 
    Did either of you find lymphatic drainage massage helpful? I can’t work out if it’d help or be too painful at the moment!! 

    Thsnk you xx 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,441
    I've had massage and laser therapy but for cording - I can't remember if it impacted on the pain or not.
  • kezmusckezmusc Member Posts: 1,315
    I just had a couple of sessions with a physio which sorted out the cording. It was a bit painful the first time but after that not too bad.
  • Shamrock81Shamrock81 Member Posts: 8
    Hi @Estherch
    not sure you’re checking these but worth a shot. I’m currently experiencing exactly what you’ve described regarding the hyper sensitivity. It’s excruciating (give me chemo any day) . Just wondering how you managed this? Did any specific pain relief help? I’m experimenting (with my Dr) but haven’t hit the jackpot. Even the drowsy medicine is not helping me sleep. Ahhhh
  • pammiesydpammiesyd Member Posts: 64
    I had Lyrica for the nerve was so bad it almost made me pass out. It worked well. But I still felt as if I had a rash under my arm. That sensation went away after a few weeks.
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,441
    It does get better @Shamrock81  Mine was excruciating for a couple of weeks and nothing really stopped it.  I wore soft padding taped so that it prevented any skin touching which was better than nothing.
  • Shamrock81Shamrock81 Member Posts: 8
    Thanks @pammiesyd and @Sister. I got some Lyrica 150mg and will def be trying some padding. Weeks seem like an absolute age away but there’s no quick fix in this BC business 
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,441
    It's hard to remember but I think it just wasn't sore one day.  I'll qualify that with saying that the area does feel irritated at times still but not to the extent that it did after surgery.  I find it mostly if I've worn a bra too long.
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,870
    Mine is still moody two years later, though I did have a wide excision in my axilla due to a new tumour in my old sentinel node site. I'm missing a big chunk of flesh and the surgeon took as many nodes as he could while trying not to do too much damage to the nerves. 
    When I get tired it feels worse--a really creepy burning numbness, if that makes any sense. I find that some synthetic fabrics set the feeling off if they rub on the back of my arm. 
    I've got a bit of lymphoedema--comes and goes--and have a proper sleeve which I loathe but thankfully rarely need to wear. What does help with the sensitivity is a length of tubigrip, not too tight. It seems to give me a bit of comfort, the even pressure and light support is nice when it all get too much and I can't stop focussing on the back of my arm. Mxx

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