Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment and Surgery.  What Now?

If you’re familiar with breast cancer, you know firsthand about the host of surgeries and procedures involved in a diagnosis – all of which can, and sometimes do, leave a lasting physical impact.

From biopsies to lymph node removal, lumpectomies, mastectomies and reconstruction, breast cancer surgery side effects can be problematic post-surgery for many patients. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reports that nearly half of all women experience pain or limitations after breast cancer surgery. While it’s reassuring to finally know you’re not alone, what can you do?

After surgery, patients often report pain, stiffness and limited movement in the affected areas. It can be difficult to move the shoulder or arm, take deep breaths or even do simple, daily activities like brushing teeth, combing hair or even taking a shower. Patients may experience tightness in the chest or armpit areas and even complain of burning, numbing and/or tingling sensations when surgery irritates nerves.  

Proper exercise and rehabilitation can address surgery side effects and significantly improve outcomes. In this video series by local Austin physical therapist, Carrie Ciaverelli, you’ll find step-by-step instructions concerning various stretching and light exercise that she recommends for improved mobility post-surgery. Carrie, owner of Healing Foundations Physical Therapy, is a breast cancer survivor who has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and DIEP flap reconstruction. In addition to her physical therapy recommendations, she also shares alternative therapies that worked for her during her own treatment.

It’s important to note that these videos are not a substitute for medical care or advice. Please consult with your medical team before trying any of these therapies to ensure that they are safe and appropriate for your individual case.