The Role of Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Home » breast cancer » The Role of Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Many patients consider cancer care as a tumor removal surgery or chemotherapy. However, there is another important part of the treatment that patients often overlook – rehabilitation.

Breast cancer may leave women with many side effects and painful symptoms even if timely treatment is availed. The treatment comprises either radiotherapy or mastectomy, along with individualized approach according to the patient’s needs.

Regardless of the diagnostic stage, breast-conserving surgery is invasive and may take a significant amount of time for recovery. This is where the role of physical therapy comes into play. Customized therapies can help patients speed up the recovery process and restore quality  of life.

Patients seeking breast cancer rehabilitation could greatly benefit from it. This is especially true when choosing an expert rehabilitation clinic, such as Chaux Physical Therapy. Dr. Alexandra Chaux is one of the most competent and qualified Doctor of Physical Therapy. She uses the best techniques and programs to speed up the recovery process after breast cancer surgery.

The breast cancer rehabilitation programs that Chaux Physical Therapy offers are comprehensive and allow patients to reduce the side effects of surgery. Each program includes practical manual therapies to help women minimize musculoskeletal impairment after breast reconstruction and mastectomy.

Whether you have had breast cancer surgery or will have one soon, learn what role physical therapy can play in your rehabilitation.

Role of Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Physical Therapy Helps Patients Treat the Mental and Physical Side Effects of Cancer

Physical therapy is one of the most important parts of rehabilitative care for people with breast cancer. Most patients develop shoulder or chest issues after radiation and surgery.

These issues may include tightness, pain, and numbness.

It can also treat radiation or chemotherapy-related issues, such as joint stiffness, muscle tightness, pain, fatigue, and the disease itself. Customized manual therapies allow patients to combat cognitive issues.

Chaux Physical Therapy helps patients with the physical aspects of rehabilitation. For instance, many patients find it hard to reach overhead due to stiffness from radiation therapy.

The physical therapy experts help patients who develop peripheral neuropathy from treatment. Neuromuscular reeducation and Balance therapy are an effective way of assisting patients in treating chemo brain-cognitive impairment, also referred to as mental cloudiness from chemotherapy.

Rehabilitation Care in Physical Therapy is Specialized to Specific Patient Needs

The breast cancer physical therapy program is also known as impairment-driven cancer rehabilitation. Dr. Alexandra Chaux at Chaux Physical Therapy designs therapy programs to cater to the specific needs of the patients. For instance, if a patient loves playing throw ball, the designed program is individualized and customized to this need.

The breast cancer rehabilitation program at Chaux Physical Therapy addresses the needs of the patients. Dr. Chaux specializes in treating musculoskeletal, neurologic, and cognitive issues patients experience after cancer treatment.

Dr. Chaux is trained in offering the best breast cancer-related exercises and therapies for issues like radiation, lymphedema, and more.

Rehabilitation Care in Physical Therapy Benefits Cancer Treatment Timeline

Whether you’re currently undergoing breast cancer treatment or in remission, physical therapy can help. Therapeutic exercises for pain management or assisted stretching can help you deal with the symptoms.

The customized therapies improve or accelerate the healing along the cancer timeline whether you have been newly diagnosed or received the treatment already.

Dr. Chaux met all the patients to conduct a comprehensive review of the condition and treatment history. Once she has the required information, she designs a physical therapy plan for them.

Physical Therapy after Breast Cancer Improves Quality of Life

If you have undergone breast cancer treatment, you can restore normal life functions once the treatment ends. However, this is not the case with treatments that include extensive radiation and mastectomy processes. Dealing with the symptoms or after-effects of breast cancer is uncommon for many patients.

Chaux Physical Therapy helps you get back to normal life, regardless of how long you have been receiving treatment. They ensure that you resume the activities you enjoy the most, whether it’s returning to work, playing sports, or spending time with your loved ones.

There is no need to endure pain when you can get help from Chaux Physical Therapy. All you need to do is to call the clinic and schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexandra Chaux to develop a program to recover from after-effects or cancer-related symptoms.

Common Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer treatment may cause:

  • Neuropathy
  • Scar tissues
  • Restricted stiffness, movement, or ROM of the neck and spine
  • Pain in chest, arm, shoulder, back, or neck
  • Fatigue, stress, and weakness
  • Axillary web syndrome
  • Lymphedema
  • Post-mastectomy syndrome

What to Expect from Physical Therapy during Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

  • Individualized exercise programs
  • Address body weakness (upper parts)
  • Decreased pain, range of movements, and motion
  • A lymphedema evaluation, if required
  • A thorough evaluation for cognition, sensation, vision range of motion, coordination,  and strength of upper body
  • Interventions and treatment for neuropathy
  • Recovering the ability to perform normal life activities like dressing, reaching, driving, and lifting
  • Scar management and pain reduction
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Supportive therapies through effective exercises and counseling

How Physical Therapy Helps with Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Once you have had breast cancer surgery or your radiation treatment has started, you need extra help to restore usual activities. Chaux Physical Therapy uses a variety of rehabilitation techniques, such as manual therapy, neuromuscular reeducation, therapeutic exercises, or balance therapy, to reduce fatigue, weakness, and pain.

Effective exercises and therapies can help you deal with lymphedema, which refers to swelling in the upper part of the body after breast cancer treatment. Remember that the type of rehab you receive depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Based on your condition, you can receive physical therapies during breast cancer or after the treatment. You can get rehabilitative care through physical therapy at Chaux Physical Therapy.

Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

If you experience numbness, tightness, limited movement, or any other physical issues because of breast cancer treatment, you need physical therapy. Dr. Chaux knows the right techniques to deal with or recover from movement problems, pain, or injuries.

During the first visit, the physical therapist will discuss swelling, pain, and other problems related to breast cancer treatment. Then, the therapist assesses how well your upper body moves by examining your posture, arms, and shoulders.

Once determined, together, you can come up with the therapy goals. Your physical therapy creates or customizes a plan for your recovery needs.

Your physical therapy in breast cancer rehabilitation might include:

  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Manual stretching to relax your muscles and joints
  • Flexibility and strength exercises, along with guidance to do them
  • Techniques to reduce swelling or prevent lymphedemas, such as compression bandages and   massage

Your physical therapist at Chaux Physical Therapy instructs you how you can safely add more activities to your daily life. The team ensures that you don’t push yourself too hard or burden your body. The goal of the therapy is to reduce discomfort and improve movement and energy.

Chaux Physical therapy evaluates your condition to understand where you need help in daily duties and find solutions. The therapist:

  • Suggests different ways to perform activities, such as using various adaptive devices
  • Helps you prioritize tasks to save your energy and utilize it in the best ways
  • Shows you multiple ways to improve your lifestyle to make things simpler
  • Teaches you different relaxation techniques to manage stress or pain
  • Helps you deal with issues like “chemo brain” that can affect thinking
  • Gives you exercises and therapies to strengthen joints and muscles used in daily life
  • Shows you effective ways to reduce lymphedema, including skincare and exercise

In your physical therapy sessions, you can focus on the essential tasks that are part of your daily life. You learn how to schedule or prioritize them in the most effective manner. You receive tips to get restful sleep and improve your diet to enhance your energy levels.

There are helpful support groups to reduce depression and stress. With qualified therapists, you feel better and focus on your recovery goals.

How Routine Exercises Can Help During Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Even if you feel there is no need for physical therapy, Dr. Chaux can suggest some low-impact safe exercises to speed up recovery. It is important to begin or resume your fitness routine after your doctor’s permission.

Doing some easy, routine exercises recommended by your therapist plays an important role in your overall recovery. In fact, some studies show that therapeutic exercises can improve the survival rate in breast cancer patients. Some regular activities may include:

  • Keeping your shoulder and arms mobile after radiation for breast cancer surgery or easing fatigue, tiredness caused by prolonged cancer treatment
  • Reducing nausea from radiation and chemotherapy
  • Improving your sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Giving sex life a boost

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a hands-on treatment you can seek to improve your muscles and joints. The therapist recommends it to help you reduce pain, scar, and pain and improve motion.

Postural Training

Your body may suffer drastic postural changes after breast cancer surgery. Postural training is the part of the therapy session to improve specific postures. Your therapist includes some ergonomic sessions to help the body get back in shape.

If you don’t know where to start, Chaux Physical Therapy can recommend you the best combination of therapies. She has years of experience working with cancer survivors.

Best Physical Therapy Exercise in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

The range of movement is how much you can move your body parts safely. You might need to restrict the range of movement for some time after breast cancer surgery, depending on your surgery type. It allows the tissues of your armpits, breast, and shoulder to heal.

Here are some easy physical therapy exercises you can do after your mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery.

Deep Breathing Exercise

Deep breathing helps you ease and relax discomfort, numbness, and tightness around the incision or surgical cut. It is an excellent way to release stress and fatigue during the day. You can do this physical therapy exercise by :

  • Sitting comfortably on a chair.
  • Taking a deep, slow breath through the nose or inhale and exhale. Let the abdomen expand slowly
  • Breathing out through the mouth.

Repeat this breathing exercise at least 4 to 5 times as required.

Shoulder and Arm Exercises

Doing shoulder and arm exercises are very effective for achieving a full range of movement on the affected side (breast side that underwent surgery). Some simple shoulder rolls, arm circles, and shoulder wings can help you improve the overall motion range.

A full range of motion allows you to:

  • Move arms overhead
  • Move arms behind the neck
  • Move arms to the middle of the back

When you perform these assisted physical therapy exercises at least 4 to 6 times a day, you can improve the arm movement significantly. You can continue the exercises until you get a full range of motion and use arms and hands for normal activities. It may include everything from work duties, and recreation activities, to sports.


For breast cancer rehabilitation, physical therapy is an integral part of complete recovery. Chaux Physical Therapy offers the best combination of exercises and manual therapies to combat the side effects that you may experience after surgery. From improving your upper body function to helping you perform daily activities, physical therapists, such as Dr. Alexandra Chaux, help you restore normal life.

Thus, talk to your physical therapist at Chaux Physical Therapy at 805-203-9940 to learn more about breast cancer rehab through physical therapy.