Hyattsville physical therapists and the rest of our team recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October

hyattsville physical therapists

October 10, 2017

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign intended to increase awareness of the disease, the screening tools and the treatments available for it. While you may already know some of the facts about breast cancer from personal experience or that of a loved one, what you might not be aware of is the important role that our Hyattsville physical therapists can play in recovery from treatment.

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in females, affecting about 1 in 8 women at some point in their lives and leading to about 240,000 new cases being diagnosed in the U.S. each year.  In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to take this opportunity to explain that side effects often resulting from treatment can be addressed, and we can help with this process.

Many women diagnosed with breast cancer will go on to have some type of surgery, such as a breast biopsy, lymph node biopsy or removal, lumpectomy, mastectomy or breast reconstruction, on top of other treatments like radiation or chemotherapy.  Following these surgeries and treatments, many patients will experience pain and stiffness in the chest, shoulder and back muscles, as well as nerve irritation that can cause numbness, pain and a tingling sensation. These issues are secondary complications from the treatments necessary to resolve the cancer; however, the problems that they can cause for women can be resolved under the care of a skilled physical therapist.

Each patient’s recovery is different depending on the cancer’s severity and what treatments were used, but side effects often reduce flexibility and range of motion, which can prevent women from returning to their normal daily activities.  In addition, any woman that has undergone various treatments and hospitalizations is usually very deconditioned due to lack of physical activity and will have difficulty functioning normally.

How our Hyattsville physical therapists can help

This is where we come in, as our Hyattsville physical therapists can perform comprehensive evaluations to identify each patient’s rehabilitation needs based on their condition and the side effects they’re experiencing.  Once a patient is medically cleared for physical therapy—which usually occurs after adequate healing of an incision, if necessary—patients will undergo a program to increase their strength, range of motion and endurance so that they can go about their days more easily and with less pain. Most importantly, the patient will be able to return to their prior level of function, or maybe even better.   Below are some highlights of what this type of program will entail:

  • Targeted exercises to help reduce the risk for lymphedema, or chronic swelling that usually occurs in the arm on the same side of surgery
  • A series of basic exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back, shoulder, chest and arms to prevent stiffness and reduce pain; the arms and shoulders are often particularly affected by treatment, and increased flexibility will help to improve posture and reduce pain
  • A supervised, gradual return to exercise, which can also reduce nerve irritation and fatigue
  • A focused effort to help patients regain their independence in daily activities by simulating those that they may be having difficulty with

Recovering from treatment on top of the breast cancer itself should be celebrated, and you should not be burdened with the physical side effects that it can cause.  At CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services in Hyattsville, Laurel, Glenn Dale/Bowie and Parkville, MD, it’s our mission to help you return to your pre-treatment physical activity levels.  To find out more about how our Hyattsville physical therapists can address your side effects from breast cancer treatment or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 301-853-0093 today.