A mastectomy is one of the three most common treatments for breast cancer, the other two being radiotherapy and chemotherapy. With mastectomy, the whole or part of the breast, muscles, and lymph nodes may be removed during surgery, depending on the spread of cancer.
Cancer is a rather unusual disease since a patient usually enters the process feeling reasonably well, and can come back from medical treatments feeling terrible. However, successful cancer treatment should not be thought of as merely being cancer free, but being cancer free and returning to an active, healthy, and pain-free lifestyle.
After mastectomy, the affected side usually becomes more susceptible to infection. The removal of axillary lymph nodes (under arm) and radiation to the axilla (causing scarring) tends to obstruct the ability to transport lymph fluid, putting a post-mastectomy patient at risk of developing lymphedema (occurring within 6 weeks to 3 years after treatment) and loss of shoulder movement.
The accumulation of fluids in the affected arm may result in sensory impairment, increased size of arm, stiffness, and loss of motion and function. To reduce the risk, avoid injury, and decrease circulation to the affected arm, post-mastectomy rehabilitation is recommended.
Post mastectomy rehabilitation programs
There are a number of different standard procedures of rehabilitation for patients following surgery.
A few things go into consideration when selecting the best style of specialty bra and/or breast prosthesis, including breast shape, body type, lifestyle, and daily activities. Breast prosthesis also help to prevent neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Everyone has different needs for physical therapy, so you should never start exercising until your doctor allows it, and instructs you on the exact way to do it safely. Wear loose-fitting garments when exercising, and stop as soon as your arm or chest area begins to hurt or swell.
Some exercises that help to increase your strength and flexibility include: elbow circles, shoulder roll, shoulder shrug, shoulder blade stretch, shoulder pinch, and overhead reach.
Start rehab early
It is important to prevent or control lymphedema as early as possible following surgery to avoid the risk of bacteria and infections. For more information, speak to the Dymanic Physiotherapy team today!