Conditions We Treat
- Axillary Web Syndrome
- Mastectomy Care
- Breast Implant
- Scar and Tissue Tightness and Restriction
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions
- Digestive Problems
- Pre-Post Operative Care/ Assessment
- Individualized Post-Operative Exercise Programs
- Mobility/Strength Training
- Recover Strength and Range of Motion
- And More
A cancer diagnosis changes everything. It can be a brutal wake-up call that takes people out of their seemingly normal life to a flurry of tests and procedures. Things start to move fast after the diagnosis and there may be a bunch of decisions that need to be made regarding treatment and care.
Typically cancer is treated through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of all of these. Yet if you have done your research, you know the side effects of this necessary treatment can open a patient up to additional risks both during and after treatment. Some common side effects include weakness, fatigue, reduced range of motion in the affected area, problems with coordination and balance, decreased endurance, pain, discomfort, and/or swelling.
Because of this long list of symptoms, some people will choose to pair their cancer treatment with physical therapy. This is because the various techniques physical therapists use aim to reduce pain and discomfort.
How physical therapy helps with cancer treatment
Physical therapy can help in all stages of cancer treatment, from initial diagnosis, through active treatment, and during the recovery period.
In Germany, physical therapy has been a regular tool in the cancer-fighting arsenal for over a decade. Here in the U.S. the importance of rehabilitation after cancer treatment, or using it to help maintain health during cancer treatment, has been slow to catch on. Only in recent years has its importance been acknowledged by leaders in the field.
Research shows that physical therapy treatment during and after cancer treatment can effectively improve the quality of life for patients. Physical therapy during cancer treatment can help reduce the patient’s risk for complications like lymphedema, poor self-image, impaired range of motion, or even nerve impingement. The key to lowering the risk is early intervention.
Before cancer treatment begins a physical therapist can evaluate a patient to get baseline measurements as well as an assessment on the level of functioning and general physical health. After evaluation, the therapist can advise patients on ways to maximize physical health before treatment starts. Physical therapists also educate patients about the risk factors for lymphedema, a swelling condition that sometimes results from damage to the lymphatic system (see lymphedema).
During cancer treatment physical therapy helps patients maintain a sense of physical well-being and function and can aid in pain management. Proper instruction at this stage can reduce the risk of side effects. A good PT teaches patients how to increase function in affected limbs/areas without strenuous exertion. Post-treatment physical therapy can restore full possible function for patients. It also helps them transition back to work, hobbies, and regular life.