Did you know that physical therapy (PT) and acupuncture can help ease the side effects of breast cancer treatment? These techniques are often used for patients who’ve had a mastectomy, lymph node removal and/or breast reconstruction.
Here’s a rundown of how PT and acupuncture can help speed recovery:
- Arm exercises can help prevent stiffness, reduce pain and boost flexibility. A PT can show you basic exercises that will stretch and strengthen the muscles of your chest, back, shoulders and arms. They can improve your range of motion and help you return to your daily routine faster. If you don’t exercise after surgery, scar tissue can develop and restrict motion and cause pain. A bonus: exercise can help fight fatigue, a common complaint among breast cancer patients.
- A major post-surgery complication is lymphedema, in which excess fluid from lymph nodes builds up in body tissues, causing swelling. The first sign is often swelling in your fingers or toes. Physical therapy techniques may include massage or manual drainage; exercise and compression, which can help minimize swelling.
- Acupuncture may help relieve arm lymphedema, which can occur after treatment. In a recent study of 33 breast cancer patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, acupuncture resulted in a significant reduction in swelling for 11 patients. Another 18 had a small reduction. Several weeks afterward, patients said the improvement remained. A larger study is under way.
If you want to learn more about how physical therapy and acupuncture can help with breast cancer recovery, contact us here.