Cording, also known as axillary web syndrome, can happen weeks or months after breast-conserving surgery, mastectomy or axillary surgery. It feels like a tight cord running from your armpit down the inner arm, sometimes to the palm of your hand, and is caused by hardened lymph vessels. Some people can see and feel raised cord-like structures across their arm, and these “cords” may limit movement.

This condition usually improves over a few months. Gentle stretching exercises during the first weeks after surgery can help. If there is no improvement or it is getting worse, try physiotherapy, massage, or low-level laser treatment by a lymphoedema practitioner.

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This information was last reviewed in August 2018
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Lymphoedema is swelling (oedema) that occurs when lymph fluid builds up in the tissues under the skin

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