If you have experienced breast cancer, some of the toughest battles you may face are the emotional anxiety caused by the diagnosis and the uncertainty about your future. What you may not know, however, is that physical therapy can help you overcome the physical challenges brought on by surgery.
Following a mastectomy or lumpectomy, a woman can experience numerous types of physical discomfort, including shoulder tightness, muscular tightness in the chest area and scar tightness. In addition, radiation treatments can lead to increased sensitivity in the skin. Likewise, the placement of expanders in preparation for reconstructive surgery can lead to soreness and chest tightness as well.
Many of those discomforts can be addressed through physical therapy. Breast cancer post-surgical physical therapy works on the scar and soft tissue at the chest and shoulder to allow for decreased tightness and pain. Physical therapy will also work with to increase your range of motion at the shoulder to allow for improved reaching and self-care activities. This can be achieved by stretching both during therapy sessions as well as frequently throughout the day at home. Your physical therapist can teach you the appropriate exercises.
In addition, a woman can sometimes experience lymphedema, which is a localized swelling due to a compromised lymphatic system. Physical therapy will help to decrease swelling in the extremity, and to fit the patient with a compression garment to further minimize the swelling if necessary. By decreasing the edema in the extremity, a woman will experience less pain and improved function in that arm during daily activities.
If you have completed surgery for breast cancer, please contact one of our Women’s Health clinicians to discuss the variety of treatment options available to help you reduce your discomfort while also returning to your previous quality of life.
To make a breast cancer post-surgical physical therapy appointment, click here.