Clarifying Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is often life-changing. All of your energy and focus will initially be channelled at medical treatments and surgeries for breast cancer, like post-mastectomy or lumpectomy. You will likely have many questions about the diagnosis and medical procedures but may be unaware of the physical impairments that can result from surgery and treatment. Some of these changes may include:

  • Swelling (lymphedema)
  • Loss of shoulder mobility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor body awareness and image
  • Pain
  • Inhibited breathing
  • Pulling or tingling sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of locus of control
  • Weight gain

By the time you face these challenges, you may feel like you do not have the resources or tools to help you return to a state of normalcy. Clients can experience further stress and anxiety at their declining level of function, independence and quality of life and at the same time experience higher levels of pain and/or disability.

Common Causes of Dysfunction Post Breast Cancer

There are some common conditions that can be experienced post breast cancer:

  • Cording syndrome following lymph node removal
  • Seroma (pocket of fluid near incision)
  • Pulling or pain into the arm
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion
  • Scar adhesions/tightness
  • Lymphedema
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Tightness of tissue following radiation treatment

Post Breast Cancer Physiotherapy Program of Care

Pre-Operative Assessment:

  • Determines current level of function
  • Education as to what to expect post-surgery
  • Review restrictions that should be in place post-surgery

Post-Operative Assessment:

  • Detailed physiotherapy assessment
  • Scar and skin management
  • Pain education
  • Home exercise plan

Follow Up Physiotherapy Visits:

  • Varies individually
  • Typically once /week leading up to chemotherapy and radiation

Assessment and Treatment of Post Breast Cancer Surgery

We address causes of dysfunction post breast cancer surgery by completing:

  • A detailed assessment with a registered physiotherapist to identify your present complaints and limitations as well as relevant past medical history.
  • A comprehensive physical examination will include a postural assessment, range of motion
    and strength testing and general cardiovascular health.
  • An appropriate treatment plan is recommended to occur after drains have been removed, approximately 4 weeks post-surgery and may include:
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Education regarding activity guidelines
  • Scar and skin sensation management
  • Swelling (or lymphedema) management including specific bandaging and massage techniques
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Cardiovascular and endurance exercises
  • Weight management strategies

Discharge Review

To help keep you on the Path to Improved Health you will receive a home-based exercise program as a tool for you to manage your symptoms and minimize any exacerbations of symptoms like lymphedema. Your primary healthcare provider will also receive an overview of changes, improvement of pain and overall function.

Discharge Peak Review

We want you to remain at the peak of your Path To Improved Health and will follow up on your progress after you
are discharged from the clinic. You will receive a follow-up letter, and should you have any have any new concerns that you would like to be addressed, we invite you to return to the clinic at your convenience.