What is this Cord under my arm?!?! Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS)

What is this Cord under my arm?!?! Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS)

January 18, 2023

This cord can be painful and limit how you move your arm. Treatment is available for this condition.

After breast cancer treatment, there are so many emotions going through your head. And so many changes going on in your body. One noticeable change can be a cord felt under your armpit/axilla that can extend through the arm to the thumb and down the side of your chest/trunk. If you have had any surgical procedure for breast cancer including: SLND (sentinel lymph node dissection), ALND (axillary lymph node dissection), and radiation therapy. This cord can appear after 2-8 weeks post op but can show up months to years after the surgery. The cord can be singular or multiple cords on the arm that had surgery. This is a poorly understood condition, but insights have been that the surgery causes fibrosis or scarring of lymph vessels, blood vessels, and nerves. This hardening can spread down the fibers of the connective tissue, which causes the cords to form. Cording can be painful and prevent normal movement of the arm. Therapy can help to reduce pain, improve range of motion, increase strength, and increase overall daily functioning.

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