Blog

Physical Therapy and Breast Cancer

 

By Christopher Ferlo, PT, Center Manager, Milford Center

Many women with breast cancer will have surgery, whether it is a breast biopsy, lymph node biopsy/removal, breast conservation (lumpectomy), mastectomy, or breast reconstruction.

After surgery, a significant number of women will experience shoulder, arm, neck, chest and upper back pain, stiffness, numbness/tingling, weakness and loss of function. Functional deficits can limit daily activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, lifting/carrying, home chores, reaching overhead, work duties, and recreating.

Radiation therapy, like surgery, can also cause physical and functional impairments. Other signs and symptoms after breast surgery can include swelling (referred to as lymphedema), scar tissue formation, soft tissue restriction, skin changes, and achiness/heaviness in the limb.

Role of Physical Therapy:

  • Early intervention (one week after surgery with physician clearance)
  • Exercises to restore normal movement, such as range of motion/flexibility exercises
  • Pain management
  • Postural correction exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Breathing exercises
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Ergonomic education
  • Manual treatment including joint mobilization, range of motion/stretching, massage techniques, and soft tissue mobilization
  • Lymphedema treatment, which is designed to reduce and control swelling
  • Creation of home exercise program by physical therapist

A physical therapist will design a treatment program specific to the needs of the patient, based on a thorough evaluation. The patient must have a referral from their physician/surgeon that should include precautions and/or contraindications for treatment.

 

Share this article

Schedule an Appointment

You might also like

Physical Therapy Before Surgery
Blog

Benefits of Physical Therapy Before Surgery

Physical therapy is a healthcare specialty that helps patients with medical conditions or injuries that affect their ability to move and function. Through exercise, manual...

how to build ankle strength
Blog

How to Build Ankle Strength to Avoid Injury

As weight-bearing joints, our ankles experience a lot of wear and tear during the course of our lives. Over time, routine physical activity can take...

Aquatic Physical Therapy
Blog

Key Benefits of Aquatic Physical Therapy

Aquatic physical therapy is a form of physical therapy that takes place in a pool or other water environment. It is often used in conjunction...