Breast Cancer Physical Therapy Minimizes Side Effects
Prodyut Das and the Outpatient Rehabilitation team at NIMT Hospital, Pari Chowk, Greater Noida, meet with patients to-
assess their condition,
including their range of motion and
and begin a course of exercises to regain strength and flexibility.
One of the most effective ways to treat the side effects of breast cancer treatment is to begin a provider-approved course of arm exercises. Occupational and physical therapists can teach patients basic exercises that will stretch and strengthen the muscles of the chest, back, shoulders and arms, preventing stiffness and reducing pain . After breast surgery many patients develop tightness in their chest wall and range of motion limitations. Through exercises and massage the Pink Ribbon Program can help patients get back to the normal range of motion they had prior to surgery.
Increased flexibility can improve a patient’s posture, which helps with pain management. And a supervised, gradual return to exercise can also reduce both nerve irritation and fatigue.
Patients can begin a physical therapy program after adequate healing of the incision. One of the benefits of rehabilitation and physical therapy is that exercise can help with fatigue, which is a very common complaint among patients with breast cancer.
Recognition and prevention of lymphedema, a post-surgery complication risk, is also critical in breast cancer rehabilitation . Lymphedema manifests itself as swelling in one of the arms because of a blockage of lymph passages and the body’s inability to drain fluid from surrounding tissues.
Prodyut integrates the search for signs of lymphedema into his work with patients. Some patients first notice a swelling in the fingers or hands, and it can be in the first year or two after surgery, or as much as ten or twenty years later, though that is much less common.
The treatment for lymphedema has four components:
education about skin care,
manual lymphatic drainage or massage and
Compression is really the mainstay, and some patients must continue to wear a compression garment long term to keep the swelling under control. “Only a small percentage of patients are afflicted with lymphedema, but it is critical to recognize it immediately and begin treatment,” notes Prodyut.