October is Breast Cancer Awareness AND National Physical Therapy Month. It is a perfect time to talk about how Physical Therapy helps in recovering from breast cancer treatments.

Recently there is an increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Not only women, one in one-thousand men are be diagnosed with breast cancer according to research.

Although the treatment plan is individualized for each patient according to the physician, common treatments includes various types of surgeries like biopsy, mastectomy, lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. All these treatments have side effects including physical and psychological.

Side effects of Cancer treatment includes:
• Lymphedema
• Restricted ROM of shoulder, neck, and thoracic spine
• Pain: Neck, Shoulder, arm, chest and back.
• Scar tissue adhesions.
• Weakness and Fatigue.
• Bowel and bladder symptoms
• Dyspareunia (Pain with intercourse)
• Axillary web syndrome (Cording)
• Post mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS)
• Neuropathy.

How can Physical therapy help?

Pre surgery: The goal of Physical therapy before surgery is to:
• Gain a baseline measurement of Range of motion of shoulder, spine, and girth measurements by assessment.
• Provide education on Lymphedema and techniques to treat it.
• Identify areas of impairments like muscle weakness & faulty posture.
• Establish individualized treatment programs pre and post-surgery.

Post-surgery: The goal of Physical Therapy post-surgery and during the cancer treatment (chemotherapy & radiation therapy) would be to minimize the side effects listed above and optimize the function.

Physical therapy Intervention includes:

Manual therapy: Manual therapy includes hands on treatment for muscles, joints, fascia and scar tissue.

Lymphedema treatment: can include lymphatic drainage massage, recommendations or fitting for compression garments, dry brushing, and patient education on self-care, referral to a lymphedema specialist.

Posture re-education:  It includes improving patient awareness about faulty posture and tips to maintain good posture for faster recovery post-surgery.

Exercise:  Stretching and strengthening exercises will help to optimize body function post-surgery.

Pelvic floor physical therapy:  Pelvic floor PT will help to address issues related to sexual health and will effectively treat bowel and bladder issues.

Post cancer treatment returning to normal life and be able to perform the daily activities efficiently is would be challenging. Physical therapy can help address the issues which affects the quality of life.

#octoberisPTmonth #breastcancerawareness #changestartshere #wereinthistogether #freeconsults #motivatetherapy #dontjustsurvivethrive #pelvicfloortherapy #occupationaltherapy #physicaltherapy #wholebodyhealth #selfcarematrix #education #breathe



Tan Cynthia, Wilson Christopher 2019,  doi: 10.7759/cureus.4779 ; Clinical Outcomes After Physical Therapy Treatment for Secondary Lymphedema After Breast Cancer

Metin Yalazna, Aydin Inan, Published online 2016 Jan 1. doi: 10.5152/tjbh.2015.2711  Male breast cancer.