October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Join us in showing our support for those battling this devastating disease.
By Dr. Michael E. Pomykala, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
During the month of October, we observe National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At Scerbo Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, we want to join the American Breast Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society in showing our support for those battling this devastating disease. Our team of expert physical therapists and aides would like to encourage breast cancer patients to consider physical therapy rehabilitation as part of their chemotherapy, radiation, pre-surgery, and post-surgery recovery treatment care plan.
The fact is that physical therapy can considerably help alleviate many conditions and side effects that women experience before and after surgery, such as fatigue, scar tissue adhesions, lymphedema, Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS), and Post-mastectomy Pain Syndrome (PMPS).
How we can help alleviate your symptoms:
Fatigue often occurs during and after cancer treatment. It may present with other symptoms, including pain, trouble sleeping, and depression. Physical therapy can help, through exercises that can improve cancer-related fatigue. Your surgeon may prescribe low to moderate intensity workouts that can significantly reduce cancer-related fatigue both during treatment and into survivorship.
For those women who may develop Scar Tissue Adhesions, our physical therapists can reduce them considerably through various techniques such as massage, taping, or stretching. Scar tissue remodeling can help tissue tolerate forces placed on it throughout the day. Another form of therapy to address scars is the Graston technique, a treatment that uses metal tools to gradually release adhesions. Kinesiology tape may be applied along the lines of the scar to provide low intensity stretching of the tissues.
For patients who experience Lymphedema, our physical therapists can provide a compression sleeve before surgery, which applies pressure around the arm to help drain the lymph fluid. Manual lymphatic drainage is a special type of massage that can also help with this.
We can also help with the symptoms of Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS), also known as lymphatic cording, which refers to a condition in which a rope-like soft-tissue density develops in the axilla. Through a treatment regimen, such as stretching and flexibility exercises, our specialized clinicians can help alleviate pain and improve range of motion. Also, gentle skilled massaging of the cord tissue pulls the tissue on an outstretched arm. This can cause the cord to snap, which is usually not painful and brings immediate relief. Your physical therapist may also recommend applying warm, moist pads to the cords, and undergoing low-level laser therapy to break down hardened scar tissue.
Additionally, for some women who go through Post-mastectomy Pain Syndrome (PMPS) your surgeon may recommend passive and active stretching under the guidance of our physical therapist to help reduce pain and increase strength and range of motion.
Physical therapy can go a long way toward relieving the painful ailments that many women encounter following breast cancer surgery.