Riding after axillary lymph node removal
I really want to get back into mountain biking after being far too long out of the saddle.
Over the past year or so ive been treated for melanoma and in september had my axillary lymph nodes removed from my left armpit. The docs said that from now on I should try not to get my left arm scratched, cut or bruised in case of infection as it might swell up and do something terrible.
Anyway, I just want to see if anyone else is in a similar situation, or has any advice for some sort of protective clothing i could wear, or is going back onto some single tracks a bad idea?
Interesting post. Your post jumped out at me because i deal with questions like this every day.
First and foremost - Unfortunately your arm may swell up considerably even if you don't get it scratched or cut. Infection doesn't cause the swelling. BUT, the protein rich lymphatic fluid trapped in the tissue of a swollen arm can cause a nasty infection (cellulites).
Most cancer docs don't like to speak much about lymphedema - sad but true. They also don't educate themselves on treating it. Its better for them to keep their heads in the sand rather than admit that most of their patients will have that issue at some point. For many people it doesn't happen until years later. The cancer docs, its always "send Mr. or mrs. so and so to physical therapy for the swelling, I have more surgeries to get to."
The most important thing to do is keep the arm strength up through exercising. Muscle strength helps veneous blood flow, which can help re-absorb any lymphatic fluid that may build up in the arm now that the nodes are removed. Not to say that mountain biking is the best idea, I'm not sure, but keep the arm active by any means you can.
I work for a company that is a provider of home therapy equipment for lymphedema. All of our marketing is done at the clinical level so I have some things I can send you that will explain the anatomy of the condition in much more detail. If you'd like it PM me your address. Obviously there is some info in there about what we sell but I'd encourage you to just ignore that part and read over the basics of the condition.
One thing I can tell you, without hesitation, after dealing with hundreds of patients like you over the last few years - those who are sedentary tend to have much bigger problems than people who are otherwise healthy and active. Having the mindset you do is half the battle.
Thanks a lot for the advice. Ill be seeing my docs soon so will bring this up with them, to be honest so far they haven't really said much about lymphedema (other than the careful not to get it cut etc) and what kind of activities to avoid or what exercise would be beneficial. I had a brief talk with physio just after the op regarding keeping the movement in the arm whilst i was healing but as for the long term im not sure.
It only occurred to me the other day when for the first time in ages I hopped on the bike and went for a spin and noticed some great single tracks. I had kinda forgotten about any possible restrictions or dangers till I got home and thought about it and the chances of me falling off or scratching up my arm.
That would be great if you could forward on some info, it would be worth reading up on this and checking with my docs. I might hold off doing anything serious on the bike and buying protective gear for now!
Lymph Node Removal/Riding?????
It sounds like I just went through the exact same thing. I had a Melanoma on my back and after they did sentinel lymph node mapping and found a 2mm focus in one node they took the other 19 under my left arm. I wanted to ask if you have any advice, suggestions, things that worked and didnt work......I start PT next week as I am only 3 weeks removed from surgery and I still have the JP drain in....coming out next week regardless if I get to the 30 ml in a 24 hr period or not. Anything you wouldnt mind sharing would be Greatly Appreciatted......I am itching to get back in the saddle, but like you, one fall........you know how the story goes.