Pain after breast surgery? How can rehab help?
Breast surgery is a lifesaving treatment for many women diagnosed with breast cancer. If you and your cancer team have determined that breast surgery will be part of your treatment plan, you will be advised on what to expect after your surgery. One side effect on which you will be counseled with be the possibility that pain can occur after surgery. When it does it is usually due to injury to the skin or muscles. This type of pain is temporary and resolves over time.
Throughout the course of your cancer treatment, it is important to listen to your body. You should never think that pain is to be endured and simply part of your life with cancer. Never hesitate to seek help and advice from your health care provider if you have any questions about pain after your breast surgery.
It is important to know that pain and how it is perceived varies from person to person. Even though some people may have the same procedure performed they may react differently to post-operative pain. Some may experience mild discomfort but be able to function throughout the day. Others may notice they can’t raise their arms as high as they used to or are unable to lift lightweight objects without difficulty. A few may notice increased discomfort such as a pinching or sharp twinge in their shoulders when lifting their arms above shoulder height.
Physical therapists, especially those trained to help patients undergoing cancer treatment, have professional skills that can address and alleviate a majority of post-operative pain symptoms.
If you are experiencing pain after breast cancer surgery and treatment, a physical therapist can help you effectively treat these conditions. When seeking out a therapist it is ideal to find someone experienced in working with patients with breast cancer.
The goal of physical therapy is to improve mobility, restore function and prevent further injury while reducing pain. Pain-relieving techniques a therapist can provide include massage, ultrasound, low laser light therapy and instruction in stretching and light resistance exercise. A therapist will guide you in a home exercise program that you can do on your own at home. These exercises are designed to build strength and range of motion. Pain persisting beyond the normal healing period after surgery is treatable. It is paramount that these post-surgical issues be dealt with medically in order to enjoy a full recovery.