Cancer doesn’t just affect breast tissue. Patients may experience lung and breathing problems, bone loss and even cognitive impairment.
Painful joints and muscles are common, but even knowing what to expect during treatment can come as a shock when the effects begin to appear on an individual’s own body. It’s disheartening for breast cancer patients to discover that they can’t perform ordinary household tasks due to fatigue or loss of muscle strength.
For advanced breast cancers that have spread into surrounding lymph nodes under the arms, patients may choose a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. The method restores symmetry to the body and will require measures to maintain mobility and flexibility.
Treatment may also be required to address or treat lymphedema, a condition in which fluid doesn’t drain correctly and collects in tissues. Well-known celebrity and two-time cancer survivor, Kathy Bates, has spoken publically about her battles with lymphedema and the benefits of physical therapy for the condition.
8 Benefits of Physical Therapy
Breast cancer has a strong emotional and psychological component that can be alleviated through physical therapy. Fear, poor sleep, worry and depression are common, along with loss of sexual function that further adds to an already stressful situation.
A Breast Cancer Patients Best Friend
Your physical therapist has multiple methods to help you attain the exercise you need, from yoga and tai-chi to clinical Pilates and hydrotherapy. Your exercise prescription will include movements that help build and maintain core strength, stability and coordination. Electro-stimulation may also be utilized.
If lymphedema is a problem, your physical therapist can help with treatments for drainage and compression sleeves to aid in reducing swelling and fluid retention. Physical therapy can also help you with shortness of breath due to fluid that may collect around the lungs.
Therapeutic massage addresses a multitude of symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. It relieves pain and inflammation, stimulates your immune system, and relieves stress within the body. Another benefit is that it stimulates your body to release “feel-good” endorphins that relieves anxiety. Massage therapy is advantageous for addressing lymphedema, detoxification, stimulating the nervous system, and scarring that may occur during post-mastectomy and reconstructive services.
Your physical therapist can assist you with nutritional counseling and dietary supplements to ensure you’re obtaining the right mix of nutrients. Supplements can be especially helpful if you have little appetite and fatigue prevents you from cooking. Help with assistive aids for sleep and mobility are also available.
Breast cancer strikes fear into the hearts of men and women who have been diagnosed, along with family and loved ones. Your physical therapist has treatments and therapies to help ease the effects of chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Breast cancer and associated treatments can be scary and have far reaching effects. Physical therapy can help you meet those challenges of the body, mind and quality of life. Call us at 516-616-0942 to schedule your appointment or click here to get your free one visit.
Dr. A Mathew MPT, DPT
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