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Topic: Restricted range of motion of left shoulder after radiation

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During, and After —

What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Jul 27, 2021 11:09PM

espressofixr57 wrote:

In the last few weeks, I realized I was unable to put my left arm behind my head like I did during radiation. My left chest muscle is very tight, and I have burning pain when I try to raise my left arm. I finished radiation in April. I called the radiation nurse and described my symptoms, she said it seemed like a long time after radiation to have any issues. She suggested I had "cording". I reminded her I didn't have any lymph nodes removed, and I didn't feel any cords. She recommended that I come in for an exam. I can use my arm normally, but there is a definite restriction of specific types of movement. I'm reluctant to go back in. I'm done with exams and procedures. I'm hoping if I just keep stretching the arm and doing range of motion, it will resolve by itself?

I am not on any hormone therapy prescription. I had a consultation with a medical oncologist, but my surgeon did not recommend it at this time.

Dx 12/24/2020, DCIS, Left, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+ Surgery 1/28/2021 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 3/22/2021 Whole-breast: Breast
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Jul 28, 2021 12:56AM Elizabett wrote:

I read that radiation side effects can appear 3 to even 6 month after your last treatment. So, this is reasonable to suspect this is due to radiation. Decreased range of motion in the treated area is a possible side effect. I'm going to see a radiologist oncologist on Monday - I'll ask for your and see what he says might be a solution.

Do you have hyperbaric oxygen in your area. I read that is helpful but something that I use that isn't near as expensive is Frequency Specific Microcurrent. Look it up on the web and it will give you an idea. I was in a car accident and using this my neck was better than before the accident. Here's an article on FSM helping

An Osteopathic Dr. sometimes utilizes this. I found one for my mother in Wisconsin and he was a D.O.

I read one report that noted the problem and improvement with therapy. I'm not allowed to post a link so you can look this up.

reports that at the end of the course of microcurrent therapy, 92% of the 26 patients exhibited improved cervical rotation, 85% had improved cervical extension/flexion, and 81% had improved cervical lateral flexion.

It is used by OT's for helping muscles relax - aid healing, its really amazing. I actually bought a unit for my husband who has a rare condition. I'm seeing my OT tomorrow and I'll ask him if this would be helpful for you. What area do you live in...I'll see if there is a practitioner there. My heart goes out to you. You might research Hyberbaric Oxygen if you have a place near you. I spoke with the doctor over the one in our area.


Dx 7/8/2021, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR- Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right
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Jul 28, 2021 07:45AM - edited Jul 28, 2021 03:41PM by flashlight

Hi espressofixr57, I developed truncal lymphedema a year later. I think anything is possible. I also had cording in my left arm that I wasn't aware of. If your BS won't write an order for a therapy evaluation, ask your primary. I decided after being done with radiation I didn't need to see the RO any longer. Mostly he just checked my skin and did a breast exam. He didn't feel I needed to be seen. The OT was very helpful. She taught me stretching exercises and loosened the tightness with massage. I couldn't raise my arm over my head that well and had shoulder pain. I now have great range of motion.

Dx 11/15/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast Surgery Lumpectomy: Left
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Jul 29, 2021 10:09AM espressofixr57 wrote:

Thank you for your encouraging response. If this persists, I will see if my RO will have me evaluated for therapy. I have felt like my effects have been so minor compared to some, but I’m hoping to go back to completely normal as possible

Dx 12/24/2020, DCIS, Left, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+ Surgery 1/28/2021 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 3/22/2021 Whole-breast: Breast
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Jul 29, 2021 10:32AM espressofixr57 wrote:

I live in the Bellingham area. There is a wound healing center that is supposed to have hyperbaric oxygen. I received 3-D CRT, whole breast ( three dimensional conformal radiation using a linear accelerator). This is supposed to be the best treatment to precisely treat the breast tissue and tumor bed, while sparing the normal tissues and structures (muscle, ribs, lungs and heart). I had only minor skin problems. The most trouble I had was with the nipple structure. I had a circumareolar incision, and the nipple inverted as it healed. The skin folding allowed some radiation damage that took about 6 weeks to resolve. The nurse gave me a sheet of Mepitel to apply. That worked wonders. The nipple is still a little tender and red, but overall it’s pretty good. I guess I never noticed my chest muscle was affected.

Dx 12/24/2020, DCIS, Left, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+ Surgery 1/28/2021 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 3/22/2021 Whole-breast: Breast
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Jul 29, 2021 10:52AM Esther01 wrote:

Hi espressofix,

These are great responses and advice. I was diagnosed in December, too. My surgery was lumpectomy with 11 lymph nodes removed. Only 5 were involved; the rest were clear. Even though my lymphedema risk is minimal, they referred me to a PT for baseline arm measurement and exercises. I didn't have tightness or cording after surgery, but I did a month later. It surprised me that it showed up later and not immediately after surgery.

I am about to start radiation, so I am hustling to do my PT exercises in advance because I have 35 sessions coming up. The PT wants to see me every week throughout radiation, to help with the range of motion and get rid of the cording/tightness.

I am very confident that what you described will resolve with help from a good PT (your MO can recommend one). Once you have the right exercise sheets printed for you from the PT, you can do those at home if desired. They can also massage the area if needed.

I truly think you may want systemic enzymes. They repair so many processes in your body while you sleep. My IMD has had me on them since early in my treatment. I have a degenerative disc in my spine which always caused terrible pain so I couldn't sit up in the morning. I just told my sister yesterday, I can't remember when my back last hurt.

They are all-natural and enteric-coated, so they cruise past your tummy and work to break down all of the surgery and radiation-induced scar tissue and inflammation throughout your body while you sleep. Vascuzyme by Ortho Molecular is the best/most affordable. VitalzymXe is top of the line but kind of expensive. S.E.'s can have a healthy blood thinning effect, so talk to your doctor if you are already on any blood thinners. Oh, and lots and lots of water in general. Half our body weight in oz. (116 lbs = 58 oz water daily) to help you recover from all those treatments.

Elizabett, you are a treasure. Those are really effective therapies not often known or understood by our traditional MOs. ACAM has a good search website listing integrative doctors practicing functional medicine in every state and also other countries. I am going to look up FSM as you suggested. Thanks! My IMD does a weekly "Ask the Doctor" Q&A on Youtube so it's a good venue for me to ask her about it.

Espressofix, I am confident that with the help of a good PT you'll be able to resolve this.

Blessings to you,

Esther

Grateful to Jesus, that His love finally broke through to me. "With one touch, You just rolled away the stone that held my heart," - Lyrics by Keith Green, " 7 weeks of Radiation including supraclavicular nodes. Dx 12/2020, IDC, Stage IIB, 5/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2020 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 6/8/2021 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Reconstruction (left) Radiation Therapy 8/3/2021 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 29, 2021 10:56AM Esther01 wrote:

Thanks for mentioning that! I have the same circumareolar incision around the nipple. I will ask about the Mepitel if it becomes necessary. I sent away for 200mg melatonin cream yesterday after reading the studies on it reducing radiation burns. My IMD confirmed that it should help. We'll see how it works. I'm glad you are healing.

Blessings,

Esther

Grateful to Jesus, that His love finally broke through to me. "With one touch, You just rolled away the stone that held my heart," - Lyrics by Keith Green, " 7 weeks of Radiation including supraclavicular nodes. Dx 12/2020, IDC, Stage IIB, 5/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2020 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 6/8/2021 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Reconstruction (left) Radiation Therapy 8/3/2021 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 29, 2021 08:38PM RatherBeSailing wrote:

Restricted range of motion is common. I had radiation, and also much more extensive surgery than you did, and every once in a while - despite trying to faithfully do my stretching exercises a home - it tightens up again.

PT has always taken care of it, and I also once had a steroid shot in my shoulder. But I've never needed hyperbaric oxygen.

I would recommend going to a PT therapist who specializes in post-breast cancer treatment, if there is one in your area. In my experience they just know what is going to work and I've gotten better results. Also, I've found that my surgeon has been much more likely to write an order for PT than my radiologist.

Good luck to you!

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