October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, you see everything from sports teams, pizza boxes, and even police cruisers decked out in pink to help raise awareness.
One in eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in her lifetime, and men are not immune. In fact, breast cancer is the second most-diagnosed cancer in women – second only to skin cancer.
If you’ve recently received a breast cancer diagnosis, you no doubt have many thoughts, concerns, and questions running through your head.
No one wants to endure a mastectomy, but with education, a solid support system, and adequate post-mastectomy physical therapy, you can conquer this hurdle. Here’s everything you need to know about mastectomy recovery and how physical therapy after a mastectomy can make all the difference in the world.
What Does Mastectomy Recovery Entail?
Cancer treatment in general is physically and mentally challenging in a way people who haven’t experienced it can’t understand. Mastectomy recovery is multifaceted and each woman copes in her own way.
Physical recovery from a double mastectomy usually takes between four and six weeks. If you’ve had a radical mastectomy with additional muscle or lymph nodes removed, this can add some length to your recovery time.
Furthermore, you’ll need to consider any additional time for reconstruction. Make sure to discuss your options with your doctor and reach out to survivor support networks for advice about deciding whether or not to undergo a reconstruction.
Perhaps even more challenging is the emotional aspect of mastectomy recovery. Develop a good support system and allow yourself to experience emotions as they come and go.
Can Physical Therapy After a Mastectomy Help Me Recover?
Studies show that exercise and physical therapy after a mastectomy are incredibly important for recovery.
It’s actually very common for women to develop musculoskeletal issues following a mastectomy and reconstruction because it causes so much disruption to your body’s natural muscle tissue. However, post-mastectomy physical therapy can play a major role in reducing this risk and getting you back to “normal” life as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, not enough patients go through with physical therapy after their cancer treatment and mastectomy recovery.
In other cases, their post-mastectomy physical therapy isn’t customized. Lack of proper exercise after a mastectomy can lead to muscle loss and poor movement which can add additional strain to your daily life.
According to a recent study from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a personalized physical therapy plan can drastically help you regain your range of motion after the removal of breast tissue and lymph nodes.
In their study, women who received comprehensive physical therapy after a mastectomy enjoyed a 32% overall improvement rate post-surgery as opposed to 6% of women who only received education and brochures.
This research shows that mastectomy recovery should involve a multifaceted approach with continuous communication between your physical therapist and doctor to reap the full range of benefits.
What Can I Expect from Post-Mastectomy Physical Therapy?
Complete recovery is never immediate. It takes dedication and patience. But by channeling your inner strength and coordinating with your physical therapist, you can get ahead in your mastectomy recovery process.
Comprehensive post-mastectomy physical therapy will typically involve some of the following modalities depending on your type of surgery and other cancer treatments you’ve had.
Have you recently undergone a mastectomy? At Crystal Lake Physical Therapy, Inc. we are here for you during this difficult and trying time. We want to help you get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our women's health specialists!
Emily Craigen, owner of Crystal Lake Physical Therapy, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a local Crystal Lake resident who is excited to bring health and wellness to her community.