Treatment for breast cancer is multidisciplinary. Women diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage can opt for breast-conserving therapy involving mastectomy or radiotherapy. However, the risk or chance of recurrence doesn’t go away with these approaches. Typically, medical professionals or surgical oncologists use sentinel node biopsy for axillary staging. However, several individualized approaches have reduced the requirement of axillary dissection in patients who are sentinel node-positive. 

Regardless of the treatment approach that a doctor suggests, fisioterapia plays a vital role in the entire recovery process. It helps men and women deal with post-surgery challenges and restore a normal lifestyle. In fact, physical therapy not only educates candidates on how to cope with the side effects of chemo or radiotherapy but also reduces scars, pain, and inflammation after surgery.

However, choosing reliable patient care services, such as Chaux Physical Therapy, is important to speed up the healing process. As a qualified physician at a renowned therapy center, Dr. Alexandra Chaux uses a combination of holistic approaches and skillful techniques to help patients deal with breast cancer treatment.

Keep on reading to learn more about your breast cancer treatment options and the role of physical therapy and exercises in the healing process.  

Approximately 14 million new cancer conditions are diagnosed every year worldwide.

Cancer treatments tend to be very aggressive, causing the patient physical issues such as fatigue, tightness, weakness, and pain.

  • Debilidad Generalizada.
  • Cansancio
  • Problemas de Equilibrio.
  • Tensión Muscular.
  • Rigidez Articular
  • Dificultad para Caminar.
  • Dolor
  • Adormecimiento en Manos y Pies.
  • Hinchazón de la Cara, brazos, Tronco y Piernas. 
  • Cambios de Comportamiento.

La Sociedad Estadounidense del Cáncer recomienda actividad física frecuentes para aquellos pacientes que se someten a tratamientos para el cáncer. La actividad física frecuente mejora la resistencia, la fuerza muscular, mejora el estado de ánimo y disminuye la fatiga.

Breast Cancer Therapy
Physical Therapy Before and After Surgery in Cancer Patients

Terapia Física Antes y Después de la Cirugía en Pacientes con Cáncer

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La Fisioterapia tiene un papel importante para un paciente con cáncer antes y después de la cirugía.

Physical therapy educates patients on how to address the side effects of chemo, radiotherapy, and cancer medication before surgery.

La fisioterapia ayuda al paciente con el proceso de curación del sitio de la incisión, mejorando la circulación, reduciendo la formación de cicatrices o adherencia, disminuyendo el dolor y disminuyendo la inflamación.

La fisioterapia restaura la flexibilidad, ayuda a los pacientes con cáncer a sanar más rápido y mantenerse lo más independiente posible.

Fisioterapia y Cambios de Comportamiento en Pacientes con Cáncer.

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La Doctora Alexandra utiliza técnicas de respiración y un enfoque holístico, además de sus técnicas manuales para ayudar a los pacientes con cáncer a controlar el estrés, la ansiedad y la depresión. 

Physical Therapy and Mood Changes in Cancer Patients

Tratamientos Fisioterapéuticos

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Every year, one in thousand males and one in eight females are diagnosed with breast or chest cancer. Thanks to advanced detection and treatment techniques, survival chances have improved drastically. A competent team of doctors or physicians carefully makes an individualized plan for the patients. Some of the common breast cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgeries: mastectomy, lumpectomy, biopsy, reconstruction
  • Radiation or chemotherapy

Though survival chances have increased with early detection and individualized treatment plans, the entire process of recovery is daunting. It can lead to patients facing possible side effects both psychologically and physically. Breast cancer treatment can cause the following side effects:

  • Scar tissues adhesion
  • Pain: chest, shoulder, arm, back, or neck
  • Restricted stiffness or ROM of the shoulder, spine, and neck
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Linfedema
  • Axillary Web Syndrome (cording)
  • Neuropathy
  • Bladder and bowel changes
  • Post-mastectomy syndrome
  • Dyspareunia (discomfort during intercourse)

Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer - How Does it Help?

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» Prehabilitation

While it may sound strange, physical therapy in breast cancer can also help patients before surgery. Prehabilitation refers to a phase period that lasts between the time of diagnosis and initiation of treatment. A bulk of evidence shows that prehabilitation plays an important role in improving the physical and psychological outcomes of breast cancer treatment. The primary goals of prehabilitation are:
  • Assessing baseline measurements – ROM of spine, shoulders, and circumference of extremities
  • Identifying impairments that affect recovery, including muscle weakness, pain, and postural dysfunction
  • Educating in risk reduction and lymphedema recovery
  • Establishing exercise programs for before and after surgery

» Post Surgery Physical Therapy

As mentioned above, physical therapy is a crucial part of breast cancer treatment, particularly after surgery. Patients require such care because chemotherapy for breast cancer can take a toll on their physical and mental health. Anti-cancer drugs are injected for at least 3 to 6 months, causing plenty of side effects. Breast cancer therapy helps minimize or reduce side effects and optimize functions. Generally, breast cancer therapy helps with the following approaches:
  • Terapia Manual – Manual Therapy refers to skilled, hands-on cancer treatment for the muscles, joints, scars, and fascia. It can help patients with restricted range of movements and motion, swelling, and pain.
  • Lymphedema Treatment – The treatment works through compression bandaging, manual lymphatic drainage, assessment for garments, and instructions in self-care and exercise.
  • Entrenamiento Postural. – It is a form of physical therapy that addresses postural changes post-surgery with specific postural exercises and some ergonomic assessments.
  • Exercise – Exercises are part of all phases of breast cancer treatment. They are vitally important and can reduce or remove the side effects of cancer treatment. For instance, physical therapy in Chaux therapy center provides an individualized program with unique goals.

What to Expect After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Regardless of the stage of breast cancer you have been diagnosed with; it is critical to be familiar with the outcomes and risks of surgery. When you’re aware of the possible side effects and risks in the recovery process, you can discuss them with your surgical oncologist. Moreover, rebuilding the breast and its recovery time depends on the type of reconstruction surgery you undergo. For instance, mastectomy recovery time is different from what it takes to recover from a lumpectomy. Women who undergo mastectomy surgery are fairly functional or resume regular activities within four to six weeks. However, recovery time can be longer and may take months if they undergo breast reconstruction surgery. Lumpectomy recovery, on the other hand, requires two to three days to feel better and resume work or normal physical activities. Discussing the outcomes of breast cancer surgery or a thing like post-mastectomy care will help you understand what you can expect. Plus, make sure you understand the treatment process and how you need to take care of sensitive surgery sites. You should also be aware of follow-up requirements such as regular mammograms. Before getting into the discussion of the type of exercises you can perform for breast cancer therapy to speed up your healing process, let’s determine the possible risks of post-reconstruction surgery.

Possible Risks During and After Reconstruction Surgery

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Surgery, whether big or small, involves risks. And breast reconstruction surgery is no different. As mentioned earlier, the process is long, taxing, and poses some specific health issues for women. While not all risks are common, a majority of women experience the following side effects and possible risks during or post-surgery:
  • Problems with the breathing and anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Fluid build-up in a tissue flap or the breast with pain and swelling
  • Infección at the site of surgery
  • Wound/incision healing problems
  • Tiredness or fatigue
Some more problems that may occur after the surgery:
  • Uneven breasts
  • Necrosis or tissue death of a tissue flap, fat, or skin
  • Changes in or loss of nipple and sensation in the breast
  • Loss of breast muscle movement and strength
  • Need for more surgeries to fix post-operation problems
  • Changes in the reconstructed breast and arm
  • Issues with a breast implant including leakage, movement, scar tissue formation, or rupture (capsular contracture)

Recovery Tips After Breast Cancer Surgery

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Though the recovery of breast cancer surgery isn’t an overnight process, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make efforts to allow a smooth process. Here are some mastectomy recovery tips to improve the results and healing process.

» Drainage Device

Once your surgery is complete, your doctors will discharge you with a drainage device intact. The device collects and removes leftover or infectious fluid from the incision site. You should receive complete instructions on how to use or take care of drainage devices before getting a discharge.   You need to empty the drain, monitor it, and measure the fluid. Usually, the doctors remove the device within three days when fluid starts changing the color or decreases in amount.

» Skin Care

Skincare is crucial after breast cancer treatment. The surgery site changes its color to blue or black after the procedure. However, this disappears in 4 to 5 days if there is no infection. Feeling uncomfortable, numb, itchy, or tingly on the armpit or upper arm is normal. You can shower with warm water to soothe irritation, but only if your doctor allows you to.

Avoid using deodorant or shaving your underarms for two weeks to keep infection at bay. As it heals, the incision will feel tough and thick. You can massage the areas gently using mild lotions to soften the scars.

» Changing Bandages

Breast cancer surgery requires you to wear a special bra designed to keep the bandages firm or in place post-surgery. Your doctor or oncologist will tell you how you can change the bandages or dressing after removing your bra.

It is a tricky process, so it is better to get help from someone.

» Incision Care

Make sure your incision is dry and clean after taking a shower. It may cause an infection or develop bacteria. It is better to dab it with a sponge instead of bathing. Also, avoid activities like swimming for some time after surgery.

» Pain Relief

Doctors prescribe pain medication after surgery. You can ask for over-the-counter painkillers to deal with muscular or incision pain post-surgery. Doctors usually instruct you to avoid aspirin for the first few days post-surgery as it may cause further bleeding.

» Follow-Up Exams

Last but not least, follow-up sessions are MUST after breast cancer surgery. This is one way to monitor your health and ensure that your cancer hasn’t reoccurred. To determine if you’re facing any problems, your doctor performs chest, neck, and underarm examinations.

What Exercises Can You do After Breast Cancer?

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Women who have had breast cancer surgery may go through the following treatment options:
  • Extirpación de ganglios linfáticos
  • Surgical biopsy
  • Mastectomía
  • Reconstrucción del seno
Any of the treatments mentioned above can affect your arm and shoulder movement. They may also have an impact on regular activities such as combing, dressing, and bathing. In addition, stiffness in muscles or joints can limit the mobility of your shoulder and arm. Take a look at these exercises that patients can perform after their breast surgery. It is best to consult your therapist or physician before you do them.

» Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release is a form of physical therapy doctors or oncologists recommend to treat or reduce myofascial pain. Typically, myofascial is a chronic pain syndrome that causes severe tightness and sensitivity in myofascial tissues. Myofascial Release is among the tried and tested techniques practiced at Chaux Physical Therapy to relax the muscles, reduce tension, and alleviate pain post breast cancer surgery. It involves gently massaging and stretching techniques for the fascia, which can speed up not only the healing process but also recovery time.

» Wand Exercise

Patients can perform the wand exercise with or without their therapist. They can do it by:
  • Holding the wand across their belly using palms and face up.
  • Lifting the wand overhead with the unaffected arm until they feel pressure or stretch in the affected arm.
  • Holding the same position for five seconds.

» Shoulder Blade Stretch

The exercise is very effective for improving shoulder movements. All patients need to do is to:
  • Sit on a chair close to a small table with their back against the chair
  • Place the arm (unaffected) on the table with the elbow bent, without moving it
  • Place the painful or affected arm on the table with the elbow straight
  • Slide the arm forward without moving in the opposite direction
  • Feel the shoulder blade move when doing this

Conclusion

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All in all, while breast cancer treatments can be a challenging ordeal, choosing proven therapy techniques can ease the healing process and accelerate recovery. In addition, qualified physicians like Dr. Alexandra Chaux can help you in this journey with her impeccable knowledge, skills, and experience. Get in touch with us or visit us online to learn more about breast cancer therapy.

FAQs

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The surgery and recovery process is long and taxing, with plenty of side effects and risks.  Discuss the surgery process, including mastectomy recovery, lumpectomy recovery, and post-surgery care.

Follow these tips:

  • Tecnicas de Relajacion y Descanso.
  • Take prescribed medication
  • Continue physical therapy and exercises
  • Take a regular sponge bath

Recovery time depends on the type of surgery you undergo. In general, you can recover within two to three weeks.

The pain lasts 2 to 4 weeks until swelling and bruises go away.

Discuss this with your surgeon as it depends on your recovery speed and condition. Typically, women start driving after ten to fifteen days.

Massage or compression therapy works best, especially if you have had a mastectomy. 

Scarring is a natural process during any surgery and is hard to avoid. However, there are ways to diminish their appearance after breast cancer surgery.