Physical Therapy for breast cancer.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer Physical Therapy will help to gain control of your life. Dealing with a life-changing event like breast cancer is challenging. Physical therapy will help you to gain confidence and improve your quality of life. The care of cancer patients is complex and it involves a multidisciplinary approach. Physical Therapy is a part of breast cancer treatments and it is a critical component in post-surgical recovery. Depending on the type of surgery: whether you undergo lumpectomy or mastectomy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, there are often side effects associated with it: limited range of motion, tightness in the chest wall, and lymphedema. Radiation Therapy may lead to tissue scarring and fibrosis.

Kristin Romeo, DPT Treating Patient with Schroth Exercise 1 | Park Sports Physical Therapy

How Physical Therapy helps breast cancer recovery

After breast cancer surgery inevitably you will experience pain, discomfort, and functional deficits.  You will likely feel tightness across the chest, shoulders, and possibly the upper back and/or neck.  Depending on the extent of the surgical excision you can expect limitations in the range of motion in your arm.  If a mastectomy is followed by axillary lymph node dissection you are at high risk for developing Lymphedema, a condition in which excess fluid builds up in tissues causing swelling of the arm. Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy following surgery for breast cancer will help with improving daily activities, such as dressing and preparing meals. There are many treatment options in the Physical Therapy arsenal. Increasing physical activity level is the primary goal of Physical Therapy. 

  • Improving physical strength and endurance
  • Managing the symptoms of cancer and side effects of its treatment, such as sleeplessness, fatigue, and pain
  • Increasing range of motion in your arms and spine.
  • Lessening scar tissue adhesions and managing radiation fibrosis.
  • Controlling swelling

Physical Therapy helps Lymphedema following Breast Cancer surgery.

Lymph node dissection or radiation results in lymphedema (swelling of the arm).  With other types of cancer, it can occur in different parts of the body, such as the leg, groin, or head and neck.   Physical therapists are trained in detecting lymphedema, providing clinical treatment and education, and teaching you how to manage it at home. Lymphedema is treated by compression and manual lymphatic drainage.

 Physical Therapy for Breast Cancer include

  • Techniques to gain range of motion
  • Strength training 
  • Improvement in postural alignment
  • Scar mobilization
  • Manual Therapy
  • Manual Lymph Drainage techniques. This is a gentle, hands-on treatment combined with multi-layer bandaging, an intermittent compression pump, exercise, and patient education that helps decrease swelling due to lymph node removal. 

If you are diagnosed with Breast Cancer 

Melissa Jesski and Cindy Huang, a therapist who specializes in Woman’s Health, Breast Cancer, and Lymphedema. A thorough initial evaluation always precedes the implementation of any strength training. An individualized treatment plan for Breast Cancer patients always includes manual therapy. A customized exercise program is designed to improve the level of your physical activity. We treat lymphedema and the side effects of radiation therapy.