Breast Cancer Rehabilitation
Meridian Physical Therapy and Wellness is excited to announce our BREAST CANCER REHABILITATION PROGRAM for those in the San Fernando Valley. Our Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program utilizes the benefits of physical therapy, Pilates, modalities, education and exercise to help restore healthy movement, function, and comfort for women who have undergone breast surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Recovering from Mastectomy
Early intervention by a physical therapist can help a woman regain full function following mastectomy. Some of the specific post-mastectomy problems physical therapy can alleviate are described below:
- Scar Tissue
- Limits upper extremity, chest, and ribcage range of motion
- Can cause shoulder joint dysfunction, pain, and weakness
- Patients may not immediately notice these difficulties since they tend to keep their arm immobile for fear of hurting the incision.
- Axillary Web Syndrome
- Cording from axilla to forearm that may develop from sentinel or axillary node dissection
- Painful condition may also causes restriction in range of motion and function.
- Over time, this condition may resolve on its own, but with physical therapy, using manual and therapeutic stretching, it is likely to resolve much more quickly.
- Fibrosis and Skin Tightening
- If treatment includes radiation after mastectomy, there may be chest wall fibrosis
- This fibrosis can further impair posture, chest, ribcage, and upper extremity ROM
- Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain
- Due to loss of breast tissue or shoulder/arm muscle dysfunction
- Secondary to alteration of posture, scarring and soft tissue restrictions, and surgical procedures performed
- Due to decreased fluid and nutrient exchange to upper extremities and circulatory system.
Physical Therapy Interventions
We strongly encourage mastectomy patients to begin treatment as soon as possible to prevent any significant alteration in function. Each program is customized to the specific needs of each patient. A thorough program may include some of the following:
- Soft tissue and scar mobilization
- Pilates-based strengthening, postural realignment, and conditioning
- Gentle stretching
- Wound and skin management
- Abdominal and core strengthening exercise
- Instruction in postural awareness and relaxation techniques
- Education about lymphedema – prevention and self treatment techniques
- Lymphedema massage
- Desensitization techniques