Movement in arm

Tmm19_ Member Posts: 4
I had a bilateral mastectomy & axillary lymph node clearance 3 weeks ago. 
I’ve lost some movement in my arm & have numbness on the back of my arm. I’ve been doing the exercises the physio gave me while in hospital & was wondering how long it will take to get good movement back & if the numbness will go. 


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,390
    Axillary node clearance often does occasion numbness - digging around for lymph nodes doesn’t do much for the nerve endings. I had significant numbness under my arm (whose armpit is this stuff!) but it has gradually improved over time. Luckily I don’t use hot wax as the numbness also involved a complete inability to tell hot and cold, so be wary about that. Can’t help with the arm movement apart from saying that restricted movement is also very common and it will improve. Keep up the exercises. I had a single mastectomy and my arm movement was really good from day one, luck or a good surgeon! Best wishes. 
  • Tmm19_
    Tmm19_ Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for your reply. 😊
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,411
    Arm movement varies from one person to another. A lot has to do with where the surgeon went digging. My anx. Clearance was fourteen months ago and my arm. Chest and down my side is still numb. I am going to have a tattoo next month while it is still numb. Has to be benefits.
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,733
    Mine took a few months for the numbness to 'come good' & it was only a lumpectomy/node removal!!  Keep up the exercises/massage of the area ... the nerve endings will finally 'knit' ... 

    All the best, take care xx
  • Beryl C.
    Beryl C. Member Posts: 270
    Hi TMM19 - I had masectomy and lymph nodes removed in Dec.2011 - took about seven years for numbness in upper arm and lower shoulder to 'come good', it never bothered me but a bit weird when drying or dressing.

  • TonyaM
    TonyaM Member Posts: 2,836
    It took me about 2mths and intensive physio to get my arm up after my full node clearance.I’m still numb under my arm and across my chest-17yrs later.
  • Glynnis
    Glynnis Member Posts: 353
    @Tmm19_ i had lymph nodes removed in January 2015 and am still numb under my arm, I've just got use to it
  • kezmusc
    kezmusc Member Posts: 1,544
    I had lumpectomy and full ax clearance Oct 2016.  It takes a while for the sensation to come back.  You start to feel small electric shocks as the nerves try to get going again.
    I would say it took a year to get the majority back and probably a bit longer to feel light touch.  It's over 3 years now and around the scar line is still numb but the rest is ok now.
    As far as movement and strength goes you probably need  to triple the exercises they give you. Especially the ones above your head, the walk walk etc.  
    Personally I hate structured exercise and I'm bad at doing it so I found painting was constructive and gave me incentive to do more than I would have just doing 20 or 30 reps of each exercise. Plus I got my ugly timber ceiling sparkly white :)
    Some of the time frames are getting a bit blurry now but I had good movement and strength within 4-6 wks and it just kept improving the more I did with it. 

  • Shellshocked2018_
    Shellshocked2018_ Member Posts: 283
    I had a partial mastectomy December last year and full auxiliary clearance in July.
    Since auxiliary clearance I still have numbness under the arm pit and at the top of my arm.
    I did my exercises religiously every morning in the shower and gained quite good movement in my arm.
    Then unfortunately I broke my shoulder ( auxiliary clearance side) so I have gone backwards in movement with my affected arm. But I’m working on it to get it back to where it was before the break.
    Im currently doing hydrotherapy with a physiotherapist which is helping, plus my exercises .
    Slowly getting more movement back again.

    As for numbness time will tell, some of my feeling has come back but not all yet, early days though.
    Hang in there just persevere with the exercises, swimming I heard is also good.
    Sending hugs xx
  • Dory65
    Dory65 Member Posts: 323
    Hi Tmm19_ 
    I had axilla/tail of Spence surgery. Very swollen and painful for three weeks. Ice pack in tea towel helped. I also did all of the exercises despite the discomfort. When I felt up to it, I did gentle yoga and gentle body balance classes. I let the instructor know about the 'injury'. Gentle stretching and exercise helped improve my mobility and flexibility greatly. I also used Giovenne scar gel from the chemist. Once the scar was fully closed, the physio taught me to massage the area to untether the interior scar tissue. Tethering can limit your range of movement. I'm back to full range of movement, with 
    occasional soreness. Axilla numbness seems to be permanent. The surgery site takes a long time to heal and the radiation therapy is having an impact at present, but I think it will be OK in a few weeks. I just want to be back to normal pre-BC me! I hope you feel better soon.