Is Physical Therapy Part of Your Breast Cancer Recovery Plan? Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What is It?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to raise awareness and spread the word about early detection and available resources for people fighting the disease. Before breast cancer recovery is possible, patients must first have the diagnosis and choose a treatment option.
It is estimated that 332,630 men and women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. Thankfully, early detection through screening, treatment advances, and increased awareness have led to increased survivorship
Battling breast cancer is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. It is a long road that includes preparation, treatment, and post-breast cancer recovery. Fortunately, there are many resources that you can utilize to help get you through this tough time. Your family should be a source of support, your doctors are there to provide the appropriate treatment methods and choices, and your physical therapists are there to help you with your pre-and post-treatment breast cancer rehabilitation plan.
Many breast cancer patients are not aware that they have access to physical therapists. These professionals are integral partners of the oncologic team and can suggest exercises for after breast cancer surgery. Breast cancer treatment often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and or other medications. The treatment and rehabilitation for breast cancer is a grueling process that may leave you experiencing a variety of side effects. They include
- Feeling weaker than normal
- Experiencing deconditioning, with sensational changes
- Experiencing a great deal of pain
Physical therapy for breast cancer patients is intended to help combat these side effects of cancer treatment and return you back to your daily activities.
Physical Therapy and Treatment for Breast Cancer
There is strong evidence to support the conservative management of breast cancer-related impairments through physical therapy. The American Cancer Society recommends people undergoing cancer treatment and cancer survivors, perform consistent physical exercises after breast cancer surgery to improve the ability to perform daily activities. Dr. Andrew Evens from RWJ Barnabas Health considers physical rehabilitation to be an important component of cancer care, particularly salient post-treatment with survivorship care.
Physical therapy for breast cancer patients can help:
- Increase your upper extremity range of motion post-surgery
- Manage your surgical incisions and decrease scar tissue build-up
- Improve blood flow to your legs and upper extremities
- Keep muscles from wasting due to inactivity – and strengthen them over time
- Increase your upper and lower extremity strength and core strength. This is similar to hip replacement surgery recovery.
- Improve balance and lower risk of falls/broken bones
- Lessen the risk of osteoporosis
- Maintain or improve your physical activity level
- Make you less dependent on others for help with normal activities
- Lower your risk of being anxious and or depressed
- Improve your self-esteem
- Lessen symptoms of tiredness or fatigue
- Lessen nausea
- Help control your weight
- Lower the risk of heart disease
- Improve your ability to keep social contacts
- Create a community/support system through the people you meet
- Improve your quality of life
Moving Past This Diagnosis
Each breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is unique. A physical therapist can help create a specialized breast cancer rehabilitation plan for you and your body. They do this by taking your goals and daily function into consideration. Even if you are a cancer survivor of greater than 5 years, there are still lasting side effects and exercises after breast cancer surgery. Not just a short-term immediate solution to surgery and recovery, physical therapy can be utilized at any time throughout your life.
This is true for any condition that requires surgery and recovery. From back surgery to foot surgery, physical therapy professionals are there to help. Not only does physical therapy improve strength, coordination, and mobility for patients, it introduces them to a new way of thinking. Sure, most physical therapy sessions are solo, but exercise often means interacting with others. Playing sports, participating in yoga or pilates classes, and even walking or running outdoors are perfect examples.
Pay attention to exercise and recovery tips recommended by physical therapists. They might sound unusual, but they will help in the long run.
Physical Therapy for Recovery
If you or a loved one is battling breast cancer or is a cancer survivor please remember to make physical therapy a part of your breast cancer rehab plan. You can find a quality physical therapy clinic near you for breast cancer patients that fits your needs and takes your insurance. Do this through the BetterPT clinic location tool website and BetterPT mobile app. There, it’s possible to request an appointment today and start utilizing the resources that are available to you! Another option to consider if scheduling a virtual consultation or visit with the BetterTelehealth platform. This allows you to seek out physical therapy sessions without ever leaving your home.