Women Benefit from Physical Therapy After Surgery

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Some women who have surgery to treat breast cancer may feel pain and weakness in the upper arm and shoulder after surgery. This is more likely to happen when the surgery involves the armpit area or removes lymph nodes from that area.

A study showed that physical therapy (physiotherapy) focusing on mobility, strength, and scar massage can help ease shoulder pain and weakness. The physiotherapy started about 2 weeks after surgery.

At 3 and 6 months after surgery, compared to women who were given only written suggestions for arm and shoulder exercises, the women who had physiotherapy had:

  • less pain
  • better range of motion (mobility)
  • more strength in the arm and hand
  • improved quality of life

Physiotherapy after breast cancer surgery must be tailored to your specific situation and limitations. Physiotherapy should only be done under the supervision of the surgeon who did your surgery. If you've recently had or are going to have surgery, talk to your surgeon about physiotherapy to help you recover. Together you can decide what is best for YOU.

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