How Vancouver Physiotherapy Can Help with Breast Cancer and Mastectomy Recovery

Approximately 2,800 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Of these, many will require mastectomy surgery and lymph node excision for biopsy and analysis. This surgery often results in altered tensions in the muscles and tissues surrounding the breast, arm pit and shoulder girdle.
Breast cancer rehabilitation can help prevent cording and minimize swelling post-surgery.
Image via Unsplash

Initially, your arm movement may be limited into the over-head reach positions and this task may be painful. Your muscles will have weakened and shortened and will require physiotherapy to restore normal length and strength.

Also greatly impacted by this type of surgery is the lymphatic system (part of the circulatory system of arteries and veins). Its specific function is to remove excess water and impurities from the blood and tissues. When lymphatic vessels are impaired or when lymph nodes are removed, lymph pathways become congested or blocked and can result in swelling. This chronic, persistent swelling in the arm(s), breast, abdomen, legs, neck or head is called lymphedema.

What Can Physiotherapy Do to Help?

Your physiotherapist will look at your posture for signs of muscle imbalances, measure the ranges of motion, test your muscles for strength and length imbalances, assess your wound healing and skin sensation, and measure your limb circumference for any signs of swelling. Cording is a taut band of tissue, commonly found post-mastectomy, which radiates down the inside of the arm from the arm pit and causes a limitation of arm movements. If you have cording, your physiotherapist will use hands on techniques combined with stretching to free the movement.
Return to your normal active life with progressive exercise regimens tailored to your recovery stage.
Image via Unsplash

What Treatment Can Physiotherapy Provide?

In the early phase, massage and soft-tissue release techniques are carried out in conjunction with stretching to reduce cording and to assist you to regain range of motion but without exacerbation of pain or undue strain to the healing tissues. We also provide posture correction and specific individualized exercises appropriate for your stage of healing, carrying out joint mobilization and manual therapy to reduce stiffness in the neck or back areas and relieve discomfort. In addition, diaphragmatic breathing combined with exercise and compression garments can facilitate a muscle/joint pump action to prevent or reduce any limb swelling.

Your physiotherapist will guide you regarding the time-lines for returning to a normal active life. She will prescribe and direct a more progressive exercise regimen once adequate tissue healing has taken place. Only a physiotherapist with the appropriate background medical knowledge, expertise and experience would be ideally suited to provide this post-mastectomy rehabilitation through all stages of your recovery process.

Call us at 604 568 4628 or book an appointment online today.

What our clients are saying
As a cancer patient, I had undergone chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction. I researched every physiotherapy clinic in Vancouver and found Go! Physiotherapy was the best choice for me. They have extensive training and are highly skilled in post-mastectomy physiotherapy. They brings a warmth and kindness to each session in a setting that is welcoming and private. Go! Physio offered me steady support through massage, soft tissue release and joint mobilization, which helped with tightness in my breast and surrounding muscles, back and neck pain, shoulder mobility and scar care.

Call us at 604 568 4628 for more information on any of our physiotherapy services. Even if you don’t see a treatment on the list, give us a ring and we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction!

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Call: 604-568-4628
Email: go@gophysiotherapy.ca

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