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physiotherapy for cording

Physiotherapy for Cording – Breast Cancer

Physiotherapy for Cording


  • Axillary Web Syndrome – also known as cording is a common symptom post breast or axilla surgery.
  • Causes shoulder stiffness in up to 72% of cases.
  • Symptoms of shoulder stiffness are often over looked
  • Symptoms arising from Axillary web syndrome or cording are not the same as Lymphodema.
  • Physiotherapy for cording provides effective symptomatic relief

Cording: Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty lifting arm forward or sideways
  • Difficulty straightening elbow
  • Difficulty reaching overhead
    • Washing hair
    • Reaching for overhead cupboards
    • Difficulty dressing / undressing
  • Visible band of tight tissue originating in the arm pit and travelling down towards the wrist
  • Cording more common in thinner women
  • Often reported within 1st and 8th weeks after removal of axillary nodes

Physiotherapy treatment for cording

  • Treatment is individualised to each patient
  • Approximately 1-2x session / week for 4-6 weeks
  • Shoulder mobilisation techniques
  • Scar tissue release
  • Myofacial release
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Home exercise program – gentle shoulder exercises and stretches

Expected outcomes with Physiotherapy management

  • Increased shoulder ROM – especially with forward and sideway movements
  • Reduced pain
  • Home exercise program
  • Eventual full shoulder ROM – time frames vary person to person

Costs associated with Physiotherapy treatments:

  • Private Physiotherapy sessions
  • Private health fund – extras cover for Physiotherapy
    • Gap payable as per health fund
  • EPC referral – GP enhanced primary care referral required
    • Up to 5x sessions / year