Breast Cancer: The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Breast Cancer: The Benefits of Physical Therapy

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

More than 15,000 women are diagnosed with Breast Cancer every year on Long Island. This is why at Farmingdale Physical Therapy we see the overwhelming necessity to aid in Breast Cancer recovery. We have the tools necessary to ease your pain, improve function and get you on the road to recovery.

You’re never alone; We’re here to support Long Islanders as they heal emotionally and physically.

Physical Changes in Breast Cancer

Cancer does a number on the body. As the malignant cells multiply, they quickly take nutrients, oxygen, and blood supply from the healthy cells. Consequently, atrophy of muscles, generalized weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and loss of function often occur. Swelling may also occur in different areas of the body. Often times localizing near lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, and groin areas. The edema experienced here can lead to discomfort and many women aren’t able to move the way they once did. The limbs and body may become stiff and lose range of motion as a result. There is a real risk for decreased mobility here.

Decreased Physical Mobility

It’s no surprise that the body needs to move in order to stay healthy. We are constantly reminded by doctors, tv commercials, and magazine articles. It is true though, regular movement and activity help in many ways. Whether you’re actively treating your Cancer or recovering, it isn’t as simple as just taking a walk the way you used to.

Decreased mobility affects every system in the body. Therefore on top of Cancer wreaking havoc on the body, new ailments present themselves. The skin is at an increased risk for pressure ulcers. The lungs have a higher risk of developing pneumonia. Permanent tightening can occur due to a lack of movement in the limbs. Urinary stasis in the bladder can to lead to bacterial infections.

Moreover, excessive fatigue and weakness can feel like an uphill battle. There is nothing more difficult than knowing physical movement can help, but not having the energy to move at all. Couple that with potential pain, physical discomfort, or mental anguish and let’s be honest- none of us would want to move.

We don’t say this to scare you! Awareness is key to preventing and helping to treat injury and illness. We have the answer and are able to help you.

Breast Cancer Surgery & Treatment

Aside from being an absolutely life-changing event, Breast Cancer surgery can cause a wide range of emotional and mental side effects. Whether it be a lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation, or chemotherapy, Farmingdale Physical Therapy vows to be there to help you through the immense physical and emotional recovery required.

After surgery, it may be difficult to move the arms. Radiation on the area can lead to skin irritation and discomfort.  Movement can be restricted. Certain stages of Cancer require removal of the lymph nodes as well. Lymphedema commonly occurs after surgery. Lymph is a clear fluid that circulates in the body. This fluid removes waste and toxins. The fluid tends to build up in the areas. This causes even further restricted movement. Although some people report not feeling pain as intensely as they thought they might, pain and discomfort are very possible. Tightness may also be felt after surgery. All these symptoms together inhibit movement greatly.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Above all else, we will work with your healthcare team to ensure that Physical Therapy (PT) is introduced at the right time in your journey.

PT can improve function, posture, movement, and balance. The muscle weakness and atrophy noted above can show significant improvement. We’re going to take it slowly and work on all the different areas of the body affected.  The introduction of movement and exercise takes the pressure off the boney prominences of the body. This shift greatly reduces the likelihood of pressure ulcers. Pneumonia is also reduced with movement. Movement prevents secretions from settling deep in the lungs and inhibits the growth of bacteria this way. Range of motion exercises can help restore mobility in the joints and muscles of the affected side. Simple arm exercises can help prevent permanent tightening and continued weakness. As we continue to move, similarly to the way fluid can’t settle in the lungs, we are also stopping urine from settling in the bladder. Frequent movement stops bacteria from growing in the bladder and prevents infections.

Conclusion- Let Us Help You

There is no question that physical therapy can help to reduce recovery time and improve quality of life. During what can arguably be the darkest time of your life, Farmingdale Physical Therapy has the physical and emotional capacity to help you continue on your expedition to recovery.

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