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Breast Cancer Physiotherapy Rehab

Breast Cancer. How Physio can help.

Breast Cancer treatment commonly includes either surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy. Your treatment plan may include some or all of these, exposing you to some of the following side effects: 

A Cancer Care physiotherapist assists people in managing the physical side-effects of Breast Cancer or its treatment through hands on treatment, rehabilitation or assisting in maintaining or improving physical activity levels. 

Services include

  • Lymphoedema Treatment
  • Scar management
  • Hands on physiotherapy
  • Functional strength and conditioning training & Programs
  • Individualised clinical pilates
  • Fatigue management
  • Integration back to work and into exercise classes, gym or sport
  • Breathing techniques and education
  • Semi-private exercise sessions
  • Exercise Classes

What to Expect

  • Each patient is assessed individually for physical impairments and the effect of their treatment in a one on one session with Megan our Oncology Physiotherapist in one of our private treatment rooms
  •  A rehabilitation program is then created to suit the particular stage of recovery and the goals you would like to achieve.
  • Sessions can include a combination of services such as manual physiotherapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, graduated resistance training, individualised clinical pilates, fatigue management and exercise prescription.

Some of the common side-effects we assist people with are: 

  • Symptoms: See and/or feel a rope like (below skin) structure extending through your armpit and/or into your arm. This generally begins near your scar and there may be one or many ‘cords’. It can also extend down the side of the trunk.  
  • New sensation of pain and/or tightness/stretching through the area restricting your overall arm elevation, particularly to the front or side of your body 
  • These symptoms typically present several days or weeks following your surgery, however it can also present several months later 
  • Can be problematic if the new loss of shoulder range is delaying your radiotherapy treatment as you are unable to reach the required treatment position.  
Post-surgical or radiotherapy scar tissue tightness 
  • Scars are a natural part of your body’s healing, however some can cause irritation and for some, they find their scars unsightly.  
  •  Following surgery and/or radiotherapy, you may have scar tissue that can feel tight, hard and lumpy. This can be around your surgical scar site but also throughout the entire region affected by surgery or radiotherapy.  
  • Following reconstructive surgery, this can cause a change in breast and/or chest wall appearance, making it appear a little firmer or rounder, restricting your breast movement and your overall shoulder elevation. 
Reduced range of movement 
  • With the surgical and/or radiation trauma to the breast, tummy, back and/or shoulder regions you may experience a decrease in your range of movement in these areas due to soft tissue tightness. 
  • This can affect your everyday normal way of life, eg washing your hair or driving. 
  • Radiotherapy tissue tightness 
  • Please see below title: ‘Breast Cancer Radiotherapy’ 
Cancer related fatigue 
  • Cancer related fatigue is a huge issue and effects 70-100% of cancer patients. It can be extremely debilitating.  
  • Can persist for months or years following completion of treatment 
  • Can interfere with simple activities of daily living 
  •  Affect ability to continue with treatment 
  • Social and economic consequence  
  • Many patients continue to believe that rest is vital for energy conservation during and after treatment however this has been shown to exacerbate the treatment related loss of function. 
  • Physical activity in research continues to show no exacerbation of fatigue during treatment and significant improvement in fatigues levels post treatment 
  • It involves starting slowly and gradually building up – managing your ‘fatigue battery’
  •  Reduced muscle strength and endurance  
  • Lymphoedema 
  • Accumulation of fluid through your breast, chest or arm region 
  • Can be a result from surgery or radiotherapy 
  • Joint pain  
  • Can affect any part of the body, however, we typically see it in thumbs, knees, back and necks  
  • This generally results during or post chemotherapy or with ongoing hormonal treatment such as Tamoxifen 
Capsular Breast 
  • This typically presents with pain and stiffness in your reconstructed breast and over time you may notice a change in shape to your breast or loss of shoulder range. This can occur from internal scar tissue developing around your implant.