There are over 200,000 new breast cancer patients in the U.S. each year, and many of these women will get some sort of treatment for the condition, from major surgery to chemotherapy. After the treatment has run its course, physical therapy and exercise are vital in regaining range of motion, strength and flexibility.
Women who have surgery are likely to experience swelling, stiffness and limited mobility in the muscles and joints in the surrounding area, not just in the chest but also the upper back and the adjacent shoulder. Without treatment these side-effects could lead to further complications and a diminished quality of life.
Physical therapy can help you regain your strength and mobility. One possible side-effect of breast cancer surgery is a frozen shoulder, a painful condition where the connective tissue that surrounds your shoulder capsule tightens and limits the use of your arm. Under normal circumstances women above the age of 40 are especially vulnerable to develop this condition, and since that's also the demographic likely to suffer from breast cancer, its a risk factor that needs to be addressed. Thankfully there are well established physical therapy treatments to reverse this condition.
If you are a breast survivor you should discuss the option of utilizing PT services with your physician. The benefits are not just physical but also psychological. Like all exercise, PT doesn't just heal the body but it also gives you a means of being proactive about your health and seeing results that are emotionally rewarding.