Mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries are not only about surviving but thriving and making the most of your new start. Just like after any other surgery, patients can find themselves with a number of musculoskeletal changes that they are unfamiliar with. Changes can include loss of shoulder range of motion, muscle tightness, scar/implant discomfort, back or neck pain, muscle weakness, discomfort with laying on their side or increased swelling into the arms. A physical therapist can help safely and effectively assist you to regain shoulder and neck motion, provide scar mobilization to decrease adhesions or pulling, provide a gradual and appropriate strengthening program to quickly return you to your normal daily activities.
Chest and shoulder tightness are very common symptoms that patients experience following a mastectomy, lumpectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. This is generally due to the protection of the incision site and the placement of the implant, which leaves individuals pulled anteriorly. Beyond safely returning patients to lifting objects, the strengthening of the shoulder blades helps to return individuals to a normal posture and decreases some of their tightness.
Additionally, a physical therapist will be able to educate you post-operatively on wound care/scar mobilizations and the possible increased susceptibility to lymphatic issues following such a surgery. Lymphadema is a persistent swelling or feeling of tightness in the arm or hand due to an accumulation of fluid in the soft tissue of the arm. Clinically certified lymphatic drainage therapists and massage therapists can not only improve your swelling through manual techniques but can also educate you on simple precautions and techniques to minimize your risk.
We want to help get you back to your thriving new life.
Guest Blogger Physical Therapist Elizabeth Pinney