Lymphoedema and Cording: The science behind them
Lymphoedema and lymphatic cording are both commonly overlooked complications of breast cancer treatment. 30% of breast cancer patients develop treatment related cording and 21% of patients develop breast cancer treatment related lymphoedema.
Both these conditions can cause discomfort and pain and can limit the functionality of the affected area. In breast cancer patients these are mostly the chest and arm. It is very important to seek support from your healthcare team for both of these conditions to limit their progression. Although both conditions arise from complications with the lymphatic system, they have different symptoms and treatment options.
Cording symptoms consist of pain and a tight tension feeling in the affected area. These feelings can be accompanied by a cord like structure forming in the armpit that can extend to the elbow and wrist. Treatment consists of physiotherapy including exercises and massages. Cording can be curable with these techniques but can relapse.
Symptoms of lymphoedema include swelling of the affected area, the skin feeling tight and tingling and hardening of the skin over time. These symptoms are caused by a build-up of lymph fluid in soft tissue due to damage to the lymph vessels which inhibits drainage of the fluid from the area.
Lymphoedema is a chronic condition, meaning it cannot be cured. However, symptoms can be managed to prevent worsening and improve quality of life. Treatment techniques aim to assist fluid flow to control swelling. These include compression garments and manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Operative methods are also available if physical methods are not successful. We discuss more management techniques, including the standard management technique for lymphoedema, Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) in our blog.
Head to the Owise blog to read more about these conditions, their causes, how they are diagnosed, their treatment options and new exciting research in the field https://owise.uk/blogs/. Owise have also included personal accounts and experiences from breast cancer patients.