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Post Mastectomy Exercise and Physical Therapy Treatment

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women, and with this, the rise in surgery to remove breast tissue, known a mastectomy or lumpectomy, is increasing as well. Some females are opting to remove breast tissue prophylactically due to a predisposition in their genes putting them at higher risk of getting breast cancer. Individuals who are diagnosed with breast cancer that require surgical intervention can sometimes recover from the surgery with complications. Some complications can involve decreased range of motion in the affected shoulder joint, decreased muscle strength, numbness or tingling in the affected limb, or loss of energy from chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

No matter what type of surgery, whether it is a lumpectomy, partial or full mastectomy, it is important to do exercises afterward to get the shoulder joint, arm and body moving again. Exercises help to decrease any side effects of your surgery and help you get back to your usual activities. Depending on the type of surgery, for some individuals, the rehab process can be started as early as a few days after surgery and can take up to a year before feeling like you’ve reached a “normal” level of function.

Each individual has a unique experience with cancer treatment, therefore, the rehab process is uniquely designed to benefit the patient to maximize their outcomes and reach personal goals. Physical therapy should be designed to guide the patient towards an independent exercise program to maintain a relatively normal level of function. Before beginning any exercise program after a major surgery, it is important to be cleared by the surgeon first so the physical therapist and doctor can decide together which exercise program is best for you.

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