One of the complications that people face after breast cancer surgery after removing the axillary lymph nodes is Web axillary syndrome or AWS for short.
AWS can be very painful and can be accompanied by a reduction in arm movement restriction. Here is more about axillary web syndrome stretches.
What causes AWS?
During breast cancer surgery, which can be a mastectomy (complete removal of the breast) or a lumpectomy (removal of part of the breast), the axillary lymph nodes are also removed.
At present, excision of the axillary lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery is done in two ways:
- Sentinel node biopsy:
During the operation, the surgical team injects a pigment into the breast cancer tissue. The pigment travels in a path that ends in the lymph node involved in the axilla. In this way, the surgical team finds out which areas of the axillary lymph nodes are infected with the cancer and removes them. In this method, a limited number of lymph nodes are isolated.
- axillary node dissection
In this method, a wider area and a larger number of axillary lymph nodes are removed. Following surgery and removal of the axillary lymph nodes, scar tissue can form, which can cause pain and limited arm movements.
Of course, not all doctors agree on the causes of AWS in some people following breast cancer surgery, but most of them believe that during surgery to remove the lymph nodes in the axilla, blood vessels and connective tissues in that area become traumatized and damaged, resulting in inflammation of the axilla. And will follow the inflammation of the hard tissues of the scar, your surgeon in the follow-up sessions after surgery, must be careful about the symptoms and characteristic cases that lead to AWS.
Who gets AWS the most?
Risk factors for this syndrome include the following:
- Younger people
- Thin people
- People have had extensive surgery
- People with repair disorders
Sometimes a person may have pain or stiffness, tightness and stiffness under their arm, without visible scar tissue.
In most people, we can feel cord-like or rope-like tissues under the skin of the arm and armpits, which is why it is sometimes called axillary web cording.
Other symptoms include:
- the pain:
The skin under the arm and armpits is stretched in this syndrome, a person can have a lot of pain and due to pain and stretching of the armpit tissues, he cannot move his arm in the normal range, avoiding pain causes restriction of arm movement and it will definitely make things worse.
Therefore, appropriate stretching movements should be defined by the physician for AWS and the patient should be encouraged to perform the movements.
The scar tissue under the armpit is caused by inflammation caused by injuries and manipulation of the area. In addition to pain, adhesions reduce the range of motion and the person cannot raise his arm. Unfortunately, in some people, this scar tissue extends to the elbow and even the wrist.
Scarring pain and tissues will greatly reduce the range of motion of the arm, etc. Therefore, in this syndrome, performing appropriate stretching movements is highly recommended.
This syndrome is safe, but it will greatly affect the quality of life of the sufferer
Most people have mild cases of axillary web syndrome. These people can help improve their symptoms without the need for surgery with axillary web syndrome stretches.
Your doctor will probably recommend physical therapy, which, if performed regularly, will gradually reduce the stiffness and tension of the scar tissue, increase the range of motion of the arm, and alleviate the pain and discomfort of the sufferer.
People whose scar tissue has spread to the wrist get rid of the hardness of the scar in different areas except around the elbow with conventional treatments.
Treatments generally include AWS:
- axillary web syndrome stretch’s:
In the following, we will pay more attention to Guided stretch’s types:
- AWS stretches
Your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend a number of appropriate stretching exercises, some of which may require a specialized center to be performed by an experienced person.
Depending on the location and extent of your scar tissue, more specialized stretches will be taken during your treatment.
Some common AWS stretches include:
- Raise your arms out from the side of your body and pull with your elbows straight and hold for 30 seconds.
- Raise your arm (upper limb) until you are stretched and hold until you are not in pain (up to thirty seconds)
- Repeat the movements at various intervals. Note that it is very important to keep the stretches for this period. If the time to hold your stretches is short and it is not repeated many times, they will unfortunately be useless.
- Each time, try to add a little more to your traction and range of motion
- Massage therapy
Massages will be determined by your doctor and will be done according to your condition and will usually include nerve gliding and scar tissue relief.
Specialized massages must be performed by an experienced person. Massages can break down hard scar tissue
- Laser therapy
Low-power laser beam focus is usually useful for improving the condition of AWS and causes scar tissue to break. Laser therapy is not effective for all AWS patients, large and hard scars have little response.
AWS Home Remedies
To reduce pain and discomfort, you can get help from NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which are administered as an over counter
Unfortunately, these drugs will only relieve pain and have no therapeutic effect to reduce scar tissue
Moist heat: Moist heat can reduce your discomfort, note that it is better to consult your doctor about this method, because the heat can increase lymph production and worsen the condition.
Prevention of this syndrome is not entirely possible
Early onset of AWS stretches prescribed by your doctor will play a very important role in preventing the formation of hard and sticky tissues and preventing the reduction of the range of motion of your arm.
AWS stretching should be continuous and the stretching should be held for at least 30 seconds to be effective. Short-term and intermittent stretching movements cannot affect rigid scar tissue.
If you have AWS, you can use the appropriate AWS stretches according to your doctor to reduce your discomfort and pain. A few rare cases of this syndrome have been reported in men with a history of squash.