Breast Cancer Rehab
Learn more about what breast cancer rehab treatments are available at Oncology Rehab and Wellness during a 15-minute consultation with us.
Conventional breast cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, can be life-saving, but they can also bring numerous undesirable after-effects. Our team of cancer therapy experts are here to help your breast cancer recovery before, during, and after your oncology treatments to address any number of issues you may experience.
Our physical therapists provide breast cancer rehab and mastectomy recovery using manual therapy and scar tissue mobilization, LymphaTouch®, stretching and strengthening exercises, low level laser therapy, nutrition, and other methods. All of these work to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness, extend range of motion, and prevent scar tissue build-up.
Conventional Breast Cancer Treatments and Their Side Effects
Our cancer exercise specialists specifically address the numerous side effects from conventional breast cancer treatments. We will work with you to prevent, minimize, and reverse many of these effects through our breast cancer and mastectomy recovery program.
Treatments for breast cancer typically include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and endocrine therapies, which introduce a variety of physiologic effects known to adversely impact body structure and function. Treatment also is known to adversely affect physical function, body weight, and cardiovascular health.
A majority of women with breast cancer experience at least one of these physical impairments. It means you’re not just fighting the disease–you’re also faced with the reality of side effects, impairments, and comorbidities.
The use of one or more drugs, taken orally or intravenously, to kill cancer cells. Side effects can include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), bone marrow damage, leading to low blood cell counts, often resulting in fatigue and compromised immunity, fertility issues, and general deconditioning (including unhealthy weight loss or gain) because of inactivity.
The use of X-rays, gamma rays, etc. to kill cancer, either via an external “beam” device or through the insertion of radioactive pellets into the cancerous tissue. Side effects commonly include Fatigue, Radiation Fibrosis, osteoporosis of the ribs, scarring, tightness, pain, Changes in shape, color, & texture, Inability to breastfeed, nerve pain & numbness and lymphedema
The removal of all mammary tissue in one or both breasts. This can result in axillary cording (tightness in the armpit), restricted range of arm movement, nerve pain or numbness in the arm, weight/posture imbalance, and scarring.
- Lymph Node Removal
The excision of the lymphatic network around the breast and into the armpit. Common side effects can include lymphedema and axillary cording.
- Breast Reconstruction
Rebuilding the breast, using a saline or silicone implant and/or the body’s own tissue. This can lead to hardening of tissue, changing shape, lymphoma (associated with implants), and fat necrosis (hardened fat lumps).
Are you looking for relief from any of these side effects? Please request a consultation to tell us about your condition, and we will recommend therapy services to help you.
Physical Therapy Treatment Options for Breast Cancer
Our therapists have a wide range of treatment options at their disposal. These will depend mainly on which impairments you are experiencing, or most at risk for. Many of these are described in detail on our other “Services” pages. But some of the most common may include:
- Pain management
For post-surgical pain. Includes treatment of axillary cording, scar tissue or soft tissue restrictions or other musculoskeletal post-surgical pain.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
Exercise will increase flexibility and aid in mobilization of affected tissues and assist in pain relief. Your therapist will create a personalized manual therapy, exercise, and stretching routine that you can do at home.
- Manual therapy/scar tissue mobilization
Provided by your therapist will break up scar tissue to reduce pain and mobility limitations.
LymphaTouch is a medical device designed to relieve swelling and pain in primary and secondary lymphedema. This device works to decrease tissue fibrosis (hardening), myofascial tightness and scar tissue formation, relieving pain and reducing range-of-motion restrictions.
- Low Level Laser Therapy
This therapy has been shown to help reduce scar tissue, inflammation, adhesions, and pain. It also will create more cell activity and accelerated tissue regeneration to increase the speed of recovery in most cases.
Nutrition is crucial at all stages in fighting and healing from cancer and from cancer treatments’ negative effects. Our nutritionist can assess your current diet and provide appropriate feedback and recommendations. (NOTE: Nutrition services are separate from our physical therapy service and not covered by insurance. Patients may submit fees to their insurance if they have dietitian coverage.)
Patient Outcomes and Reviews
Our oncology physical therapists have an excellent track record of success in preventing, minimizing, and reversing many of the effects of breast cancer and its treatments. Here are some of the results:
“LymphaTouch has allowed me to finally sleep pain-free on my mastectomy side, something I never thought would happen again, and get a good night’s sleep! All scarring is now improved, and the scar restrictions I previously felt have been alleviated.”
"Oncology Rehab and Wellness was wonderful after my breast cancer surgery. All of the staff were so caring and compassionate. They were all my biggest cheerleaders during my cancer treatments. They were my very favorite providers during my cancer journey, they all knew me by name and made it a very personal experience rather than feeling like just an appointment on the calendar.
They helped me regain my mobility and range of motion after my bilateral reduction and sentinel node biopsy. I had developed cording in my dominant arm and could barely use it, but after a few weeks of PT with them, I regained full mobility and strength."
"I’m glad I can use my body normally now. ... It’s the only follow-up appointment I’m excited to go to. You should definitely see them if you get diagnosed with cancer, you won’t regret it."
Get Started with Breast Cancer Rehab
Ready to learn more about your breast cancer rehab options? We’re ready to provide you with a free consultation.
During our consultation, one of our cancer therapists will discuss your treatment options in detail and design a personal treatment plan to address your specific needs and timeline.
Appointments are available within 7 days. Since we are a direct-access provider, a physician referral is not required, and our therapy services are in-network with most plans from major insurance providers.
Appointments within 7 days.
You can call us directly. No need for a physician referral.
We are in-network with most major insurance providers.
Assessment and Prehabilitation
Because early detection improves recovery from all cancer treatment side effects, we follow the Prospective Surveillance Model (PSM) for breast cancer care. The PSM provides a standardized framework for assessment to detect impairments early throughout breast cancer treatment and recovery.
PSM-guided rehab and “prehab” education, exercise, and other interventions can help patients achieve the following benefits:
- Reduce the physical deconditioning which is a common condition experienced by cancer survivors because of inactivity during cancer treatments.
- Minimize or prevent loss of range-of-motion.
- Retain or regain strength, balance, and bone mass.
Pre-Operative Breast Cancer Care Evaluation
At the time of a breast cancer diagnosis, we document baseline measurements of overall function, joint range of motion, strength, and baseline volumetric measurements of the upper extremities. We identify any prior physical impairments that may affect tolerance to cancer treatments or affect your surgical outcome. We then instruct each patient on a post-operative exercise program as well as provide education on recommended activity levels during and after cancer treatments.
After surgery, we assess pain levels, joint range of motion, strength, and volumetric measurements of the upper extremities. The post-operative evaluation assists your cancer care team in identifying any post-surgical problems that can be addressed by a rehabilitation professional to enable optimal healing. Rehab interventions after surgery can help reduce the physical impairments common after breast cancer surgery.
At predetermined intervals, we repeat baseline measurements to identify changes and detect impairments early. Early detection of problems is often the key to preventing further disability, pain or loss of function. Impairments may occur months or even years after treatment ends, so these follow-up appointments are crucial at catching problems early.
Request a consultation to ask your questions and get started with breast cancer rehab.
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