When a person is first diagosed with breast cancer, the key focus of the patient and their care team is treating the cancer and preventing recurrence. During this phase, treatment may include surgical intervention, chemotherapy, radiation, plastic surgery and often, hormone therapy. But there is much more involved in the recovery from breast cancer, especially long after the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are completed.
The Role of Physical Therapy in Recovery
Physical therapy can halt pain and loss of mobility, especially in breast cancer survivors' arms and upper body after breast or lymph node surgery. Through physical therapy intervention, breast cancer survivors can become healthier and stronger both mentally and physically, with physical therapy intervention. Individuals who have had breast cancer surgery can suffer loss of mobility due to Axillary Web Syndrome, which occurs when tissue under the arm scars. This scar tissue then restricts mobility which in turn causes loss of strength, flexiblity and causes postural imbalances. These postural imbalances can then lead to other problems such as neck and back pain as well as headaches.
What do Treatments Consist of?
Our Physical Therapist will perform a thorough assessment to determine how the cancer and its treatment regimen has affected the patient's strength, mobility, and soft tissue structures. Our physical therapist will then partner with the patient and their care team to provide individualized treatment that focuses on improve flexibility to combat muscle tissue shortening and contractures, or thickening and layers of soft tissue sticking together- which causes muscle pain and aches.
Initially, treatments may focus on gentle soft tissue stretching, myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization and lymph massage. Later in the recovery process our physical therapist will design and supervise a gradual return to physical exercise to further improve the health and well being of the patient. Long term exercise can reduce risk for recurrence of cancer as well as offset loss of muscle mass, prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.
Another rarely-talked about side-effect of cancer treatment is weight gain, and this is both physically and mentally distressful for survivors, especially after they have already gone through so much physical and mental pain in their fight against cancer. Weight gain only further complicates an already painful recovery process.
Our physical therapist can prescribe and supervise a graded exercise program consisting of both cardio exercise and strengthening activities to help the patient attain and maintain a health weight. Furthermore, exercise combats mental distress and fatigue, and boosts quality of life
If you or someone you love is recovering from Breast Cancer treatment, contact us today to help them in the next phase of their recovery.
Recovery is more than surviving.
Recovery is THRIVING after treatment