Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

More and more women are surviving breast cancer with the advancement in early detection and treatments. Although these are life-saving these treatments can sometimes leave patients with side effects/symptoms that can affect their readiness to return to life and have a negative impact on their quality of life. Breast cancer rehabilitation aims to manage symptoms that occur after chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

Pain, discomfort and muscle stiffness in the chest and arms following breast surgery (both following mastectomies and reconstructive procedures) are some of the most common complaints of breast cancer patients. There are various non-pharmacological therapies that can be offered to help manage your pain better.

Oedema can be a short-lived symptom following a specific procedure, or one can develop a chronic condition known as lymphoedema following removal of lymph nodes &/radiation therapy. Lymphoedema is best managed if it is treated in the early stages. If you notice swelling in your arm following your surgery, please seek out a lymphoedema therapist (Read more on lymphoedema therapy in the therapies offered).

Some surgical scars (both from mastectomies and from reconstruction) and deeper scar tissue caused by radiation therapy, can become problematic in that they develop sensitivities (a scar that becomes sensitive or painful to touch) or adhesions. A scar adhesion is where a scar becomes “stuck” to the underlying structures (such as your chest wall). This can cause difficulty with movement, discomfort when breathing and pain. There are various treatments that we can offer to assist with issues related to scarring

Loss of range of motion (movement) of the shoulder is a common problem experienced by breast cancer survivors. This occurs for many reasons, some of which include pain and discomfort in the area, fear of moving, muscle stiffness, scarring (surgical and from radiation) and cording. Cording or axillary web syndrome is a condition that can occur following surgery to your chest or removal of lymph nodes. It can be felt as thick, “rope-like” structures running from your armpit into your arm. Decreased upper limb strength is also an important aspect that is covered in rehabilitation.

Neuropathy or nerve damage (such as tingling, numbness, pain and decreased strength) can occur following breast surgery due to physical damage to the nerves or compression of the nerves due to scar tissue and oedema. However, it is most commonly seen following chemotherapy. This symptom, if caused by chemotherapy will usually resolve on its own with time. This can however take weeks or even months. We offer therapies to help alleviate these symptoms whilst your body recovers.

We at OT Zone Inc combine different treatment modalities to address above mentioned symptoms in order to improve function and quality of life.

Treatment for breast cancer therapy:

  • Positioning post-surgery
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Soft tissue mobilisation
  • Fascial release
  • Scar management
  • Desensitization
  • Pain management
  • Range of motion of involved joints
  • Exercises
  • Self-care
  • Activities of daily living

Schedule an Appointment

For an integrated approach to Occupational Therapy services, contact us on the details below.

Hands, Lymphoedema & Breast Cancer

011 475 9480
hands@otzone.co.za

Neurological and Adult Physical Rehabilitation

060 477 9950
neuro@otzone.co.za