Mastectomy surgery is a method of treating — or in some cases preventing — breast cancer by removing your entire breast. Because post-surgical pain, tenderness, and swelling can lead to limited range of motion in your arm or shoulder following a mastectomy, it’s important to keep moving. At Fyzical PT Center in Plantation, Florida, physical therapist and certified lymphatic expert Dr. Emily Rade specializes in helping women alleviate pain, reduce scarring, and maintain or restore upper-extremity range of motion after mastectomy. Call or schedule an appointment online today.
After a mastectomy, you may feel sharp pains, experience a pins-and-needles sensation, or simply be more sensitive on the side of your body where you had your surgery. If you sustained any nerve damage, you may also feel numb at or near the site of the surgery; while numbness usually improves as nerves heal, some women never get their full feeling back.
It’s also normal to experience swelling or puffiness in your arm or hand on the side of your body where you had your surgery. Post-surgical swelling typically improves over time.
Whether you experience pain, numbing sensations, swelling, or all of the above, it’s important to keep moving. When you’re in the hospital, your nurse or physical therapist can teach you how to gently rub or tap any sensitive places to help reduce pain; they can also show you how to position your arm to help reduce swelling.
Post-mastectomy physical therapy is designed to help you regain full function following surgery, regardless of whether or not you’ve chosen to have a breast reconstruction, too. An individually tailored rehabilitative exercise program promotes complete recovery by helping you restore strength and increase the range of motion in your shoulder and arm. Other benefits include:
Because every woman is unique in her post-mastectomy recovery, Dr. Rade is prepared to help you address a wide range of symptoms and potential complications.
When you feel tightness around your incision after mastectomy surgery, what you’re actually feeling is scar tissue formation. If scar tissue is allowed to become very dense around or beneath your incision, it can restrict your ability to move or even impinge on nearby nerves, causing a condition known as post-mastectomy pain syndrome.
By using targeted exercises, stretches, and manual therapy, Dr. Rade can effectively release scar tissue, reduce nerve-related pain, and restore functional range of motion.
Research shows that women who begin post-mastectomy physical therapy as soon as possible report less pain and a higher degree of functionality than those who delay rehabilitation.
Exercises that preserve shoulder range of motion and arm mobility may be done as early as 24 hours following surgery. Besides helping you restore lost strength, these exercises help promote good circulation for optimal healing.
Although some women are able to begin physical therapy as soon as two days after surgery, the timing that benefits you most depends on the extent of your surgery, your condition, and your surgeon’s recommendations.
If you haven’t had your mastectomy yet, meeting with Dr. Rade after surgery can help you feel more at ease and confident in your overall recovery goals. Call or schedule your appointment online today.