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Lymphostasis of the hand after removal of the breast: symptoms and treatment
Lymphostasis of the hand after removal of the breast: symptoms and treatment

Lymphostasis is a pathological condition characterized by persistent edema. It occurs with stagnation of the outflow of lymph (tissue fluid). Surgical operations are one of the most common causes of pathology. There are several stages of the disease, each of which has certain characteristics.

Lymphostasis can occur after radiation in breast cancer tumors, after surgery, when the lymphatic system has been damaged, in the presence of benign and malignant tumors of the lymphatic system.

Lymphostasis of the hand after removal of the mammary gland

This operation is called a mastectomy. It is performed if there is a malignant tumor in the breast (breast cancer).

  1. During surgery, lymph nodes at hand can be removed, which will lead to lymphedema. A similar situation occurs with irradiation.
  2. Persistent and severe swelling of the limb appears as a result of disturbances in lymph outflow (damage to the drainage and the lymph nodes themselves).
  3. When the edema subsides several months after the operation, it means that postmastectomy lymphostasis has taken place. Otherwise, they talk about lymphedema.

This pathology does not occur in all women who have undergone the removal of the mammary gland, but if it appears, it can remain for life.

The danger of this violation lies in the fact that a deformation of the hand can occur. In addition, this condition is often accompanied by inflammatory processes. Lymphoses cause both physical and psychological discomfort.

If lymphostasis occurs in the first year after surgery, then it responds well to treatment. As a rule, the swelling is mild, but it causes aching, bursting pain. The timely treatment of lymphostasis will allow you to quickly get rid of discomfort.

Why does lymphostasis appear after removal of the mammary gland?

A mastectomy involves removing not only the gland, but also the lymphatic vessels that nourished it. This process provokes a malfunction in the functioning of the body. Removal of lymph nodes is a necessary measure, since there is a possibility of the presence of cancer cells in the lymphatic system. If you remove them, you can avoid recurrence of the disease in the future. It is worth noting that it is possible to confirm the presence of cancer cells in such cells only after their removal through histological examination.

After the removal of the lymph nodes by the lymphatic system, the lymph continues to flow to this part of the body, the lymph, which gradually accumulates in the shoulder and arm. It is impossible to determine in advance the outcome of surgery. There are cases when the disease does not occur, but it happens and vice versa, when the slightest intervention leads to its appearance.

Symptoms of lymphostasis

  • The first stage: slight edema appears in the evening, goes away until the morning; swelling is observed constantly; connective tissue growths are still absent, it's time to see a doctor.
  • Second stage: the swelling does not go away; the skin hardens, connective tissues grow; the skin is taut, swollen, which provokes pain. Treatment of hand lymphostasis after mastectomy in this case is still possible, but it is quite laborious.
  • Third stage: irreversible changes; the symptoms of the first and second stage intensify; cysts and wounds appear; deformation of the fingers occurs; the limb becomes inactive; eczema, erysipelas, or ulcers may appear.


  1. The doctor first examines, examines the history and symptoms.
  2. Then you need to pass a biochemical and general blood / urine test.
  3. Consultation of a vascular surgeon, complete examination of the small pelvis, thoracic and abdominal cavity, extremities and veins is required.
  4. To confirm the diagnosis, lymphography is mandatory - a procedure for examining the lymph nodes and blood vessels.

A woman who has had her breasts removed should be prepared for such complications. You should immediately consult a doctor at the first warning signs. A vascular surgeon, lymphologist or phlebologist can help. The specialist will prescribe a set of tests and ultrasound. During the diagnosis, X-ray lymphography is used to determine where the blood vessels are blocked.

Treatment of different stages of hand lymphostasis

With the help of medications, you can overcome the disease in the early stages of its development. Therapy is aimed at stopping puffiness and restoring the normal proportion of the body part, preventing complications.

The course of treatment includes a whole range of measures:

  • taking medications;
  • manual lymphatic drainage, use of ointments and creams;
  • sock of a bandage and compression underwear;
  • physiotherapy;
  • massage.

Laser therapy, electromagnetic stimulation can be involved. In the last stages of the disease, osteopathic visceral techniques are used.

Hand lymphostasis, which occurs in breast cancer, is associated with a course of radiation therapy. The appearance of dense edema indicates that the cancer cells have not been destroyed and there is a risk of cancer recurrence. It is recommended to start gymnastics and massage for prophylaxis immediately after the end of radiation therapy. Swimming and wearing a compression sleeve are well proven. It should be noted that the therapy is based on massage, gymnastics, and drug treatment is only an addition.

Hand massage for lymphostasis, which appeared after mastectomy

The procedure can be performed by both the patient herself and his family members.

However, you must first familiarize yourself with the instructions for its implementation.

  1. Rest the affected limb on a vertical surface. The second is to massage and stroke the first. The massage is done from fingers to shoulder and from elbow to shoulder. You can use topical products (creams, ointments);
  2. It is necessary to process the diseased limb from all sides. First, they carefully work out the sides, then the inner, and then the outer. Movements should be slow, gentle, but with little pressure. The massage should not cause discomfort and, moreover, pain.

The duration of one session is 5 minutes. It is recommended to repeat the procedure every 2-3 hours.

Gymnastics for hand lymphostasis after mastectomy

Physiotherapy is a mandatory component of therapy. Each exercise is done in 5 sets of 10 times.

The recommended set of exercises looks like this:

  • IP - hands on knees, palms down, elbows straight. Slowly turn the palms to the outside and back. The fingers should be relaxed;
  • IP - hands behind the back are connected in a lock and pressed to the back. Slowly pull the palms to the shoulder blades;
  • IP - hands can be put on your knees (elbows are straight). Alternately clench and unclench fists;
  • Raise the diseased limb, hold it in front of you, slowly lower it. Exhales / inhales - slow;
  • IP - hands are clasped behind the back, elbows are straightened. Take your hands up, bringing your shoulder blades;
  • Putting your hands on your shoulders, slowly lower and raise them;
  • IP - hands on shoulders. Make circular movements with your shoulders;
  • IP - standing, the body is tilted, the diseased limb is lowered and relaxed. Shake the affected hand to the sides, back and forth;
  • Raise the sore hand up, linger, then take it aside and linger again, lower it.

Lymphostasis after mastectomy: therapy with folk remedies

Plantain recipe

  1. Pour 2 tbsp. l chopped dried leaves of the plant with 2 cups of hot water and leave to infuse overnight.
  2. In the morning, the resulting product is filtered.
  3. They drink it 30 minutes before a meal, after adding a spoonful of honey.
  4. The course of treatment is 2 months.

Tar recipe

  • The head of unpeeled onion is baked in the oven.
  • After cooling, it is cleaned and mixed with tar (1 tbsp. L.).
  • The resulting mixture is smeared with a gauze bandage (thick layer), which is applied overnight.
  • In the morning, the compress is removed, the hand is washed with warm water and a massage is done immediately.
  • It is recommended to repeat this procedure for 1-2 months.

Garlic recipe

  1. In a small container, mix 250 g of fresh chopped garlic and 350 g of honey.
  2. The mixture is allowed to stand for a week, and then 15 ml is taken before a meal.
  3. The course is 2 months.

Therapy with folk remedies is also based on taking tinctures, applying compresses from plants rich in vitamins P and C. The latter dilute the lymph, thereby facilitating its outflow. It is recommended to drink more pomegranate juice, rosehip broth, cranberries and currants; fruits and vegetables of red color (beets, currants, mountain ash, grapes).

For more detailed advice, contact your doctor!

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