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*Breast Cancer Rehabilitation and PT


People with cancer have a lot to deal with.  Some of the difficulties that occur are loss of function and fatigue.  During the treatment of cancer, lack of energy due to stress, chemotherapy, or radiation is common.  Breast cancer surgery can lead to potential loss of strength, movement, and function.  Statistically one in three women who undergo lymph node removal during breast cancer surgery develop swelling of the arm.  Physical Therapy can help treat the dysfunction and fatigue you may have during cancer treatment or after breast cancer surgery.  Emphasis is placed on exercises to help improve mobility, pain, and function.  Some PT's may also specialize in treatment of lymphedema or swelling of the arm or leg.

Conservative Physical Therapy Management of breast cancer rehabilitation may include:

  • Modalities: such as heat and ice
  • Manual Therapy:  “hands on” treatment to improve pain and restore function and movement.
  • Mobilization and Manipulation:  movement of a joint to improve pain and restore functional movement.
  • Therapeutic Exercise:  specific exercise to improve pain and restore functional movement.
  • Functional Movement Training:  exercises to improve posture and movement.
  • Biofeedback:  a way of using a computer or other device to “see” and improve body functions such as muscle activity or indicators of stress.   
  • Electrical Stimulation or TENS:  used to help improve pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle function, and circulation.
  • Lymphedema treatment:  "hands on" treatment and compression bandges and garments to control fluid and swelling.

Not all physical therapists work with breast cancer rehabilitation or lymphedema.  There are women's health physical therapists who specialize in these areas. You can get more information on this specialty area of physical therapy or locate a PT who works with these conditions at the website for the Section on Women's Health of the American Physical Therapy Association here.

*Links are given to provide a general overview of a topic and not intended to suggest complete or authoritative information on a particular subject.  The information provided is always subject to change.*

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    Pain and Simple Steps - POSTS - *Breast Cancer Rehabilitation and PT
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