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Physical Therapy after Breast Cancer

The goal of physical therapy after breast cancer treatment or surgery is to help you decrease pain as well as regain motion and function so that you can resume normal daily activities.

After breast cancer treatment or surgery you may experience pain, stiffness, weakness, swelling, or loss of function. These conditions can be the result of postural changes, fear of moving the affected arm, and pre-existing conditions. If not properly treated, this can lead to muscle shortening, scar tissue formation, stiffness, swelling, and weakness. All these areas can be addressed with physical therapy.

Assessment by a physical therapist would include the following areas:

  • Posture
  • Motion – specifically range of motion of the neck, shoulder, and arm
  • Strength testing
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Scar assessment

Treatment may consist of:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage
  • Range of motion or gentle stretching
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Scar massage
  • Strengthening
  • Heat or ice if needed
  • Home exercise program

Activities of Daily Living

The most difficult tasks will be the ones that require you to reach up, out, and around. To help you regain independence in personal care, household responsibilities, work, hobbies, and sports, we strongly suggest that you pace yourself to accomplish any tasks and gradually work on increasing your motion and strength.

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