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The Care Net - Manual Therapy After Breast Cancer Treatment - Part 1 Understanding Cording

Lymphatic drainage can play a significant role in helping with a condition known as cording or axillary web syndrome (AWS). Cording is a common side effect of breast cancer surgery, particularly axillary lymph node dissection or sentinel lymph node biopsy. It is characterized by the formation of tight, ropelike structures or cords under the skin, typically extending from the armpit down the arm.

These cords are formed when lymphatic vessels or fibrous tissue in the axilla (armpit) become restricted or scarred, causing limited range of motion and discomfort. Lymphatic drainage techniques can aid in the management and alleviation of cording through the following mechanisms:

  1. Improved Lymphatic Flow: Cording is often associated with impaired lymphatic circulation in the affected area. Lymphatic drainage techniques, such as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), can help stimulate the lymphatic system, promoting the movement of lymph fluid. By enhancing lymphatic flow, cording can be eased and the associated symptoms, such as tightness and restricted mobility, can be reduced.

  2. Reduced Inflammation: Cording is often accompanied by inflammation in the affected tissues. Lymphatic drainage techniques can help reduce inflammation by clearing away excess fluid, toxins, and cellular debris. By reducing inflammation, lymphatic drainage can alleviate pain, tenderness, and swelling associated with cording.

  3. Softening of Fibrous Tissue: Cords formed in cording are composed of fibrous tissue. Regular lymphatic drainage treatments can help soften and loosen the fibrous tissue, making the cords less tight and rigid. As a result, the range of motion in the affected arm can be improved, reducing discomfort and facilitating better mobility.

It is important to note that cording is a condition that should be properly diagnosed and monitored by healthcare professionals or lymphedema specialists. We can provide guidance on the most appropriate lymphatic drainage techniques and develop an individualized treatment plan based on the severity and specific needs of the patient.

In addition to lymphatic drainage, other treatments such as physical therapy, stretching exercises, and scar tissue mobilization may also be recommended to manage cording effectively. Always consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in lymphatic issues to ensure safe and appropriate management of cording after breast cancer treatment.

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