Breast Cancer Rehabilitation
Welcome to Comber Physical Therapy & Fusion Chiropractic,
Having worked with breast cancer survivors since 2001, I understand the last thing you want is yet another medical appointment. So, before we get started, just know that I aim to make your physical therapy experience a positive one.
My goal as a physical therapist is to help identify what is a normal part of the healing process and what may indicate the need for a little more attention. I am a big believer in education, so I spend a lot of time with patients to help them understand what is going on and how they can safely get back to living their lives.
Your oncologist, your surgeon, and the folks at the radiation center – they saved your life. I am honored you chose me to be the physical therapist who helps you get back to the life you want to live!
Ginger Kennison, MPT, OCS
Breast Cancer Rehabilitation FAQs
How does a physical therapist assist with breast cancer recovery?
A physical therapist helps you to regain post-operative mobility, strength, and function. We help to guide the natural healing process to maximize your recovery.
What will my treatments include?
At your first visit, you will be assessed by a physical therapist who specializes in working with breast cancer patients. Your treatments will be highly personalized. Your sessions may range from just a couple appointments for preventative compression garment fitting, teaching exercises, and guidance about lymphedema prevention, to multiple appointments where you will also receive manual lymph drainage which is a very gentle massage technique to decrease swelling.
Will physical therapy be painful?
You will feel a normal stretching sensation and your muscles working, but most patients do not describe it as painful. We have discovered the gentle stretching and exercises bring great results in reducing pain and stiffness.
Is pain following my breast and lymph node surgery normal?
Some post-op pain is normal. If it is lasting longer than your surgeon expects, or if you are having difficulty regaining shoulder mobility, you may be developing a condition called axillary web syndrome (AWS). AWS is characterized by pain and tightness centered in the armpit, which can extend into the arm or, less frequently, into the chest. It will often be associated with “cords” developing in the same area.
Does swelling after surgery mean I have lymphedema?
Everyone who has had breast surgery will have some post-op swelling. That’s normal! Physical therapy utilizes the unaffected parts of the lymphatic system to help eliminate that normal swelling. You are at risk for developing lymphedema if you have had lymph nodes removed, radiation, or chemotherapy. However, the majority of woman at risk never actually develop lymphedema.
Can I prevent lymphedema?
There are things you can do to further minimize your risk. Patients at risk are fitted with a preventive compression sleeve and gauntlet and educated on how to use it. While lymphedema may not be 100% preventable, if you know what to look for and pick up on it early, we can address it before it needs to be managed more aggressively. The earliest signs are a tight, heavy, thick feeling, and this may occur before any edema is measurable.