Breast cancer and the subsequent mastectomy surgery can leave the body in a weakened state. Physical therapy can be an integral part of the recovery process to regain strength, mobility, and function. In this blog post, we’ll explore some exercises and techniques used in post-mastectomy physical therapy.

  • Range of Motion Exercises: Range of motion exercises are used to increase mobility in the affected area after surgery. These exercises help maintain joint function and prevent muscle contracture. Some exercises for the shoulder include arm circles, pendulum swings, and wall crawls. Your physical therapist may prescribe range of motion exercises to be performed several times a day to improve flexibility.
  • Strengthening Exercises: After mastectomy surgery, it is essential to regain strength in the chest, back, and arm muscles. Strengthening exercises can be done with resistance bands, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises. Exercises may include wall push-ups, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. Your physical therapist will assess your strength and prescribe an exercise program tailored to your needs.
  • Scar Tissue Management: Scar tissue may form after surgery, which can cause stiffness and tightness. Manual therapy techniques such as massage and soft tissue mobilization can help break up scar tissue and improve circulation. Scar tissue management techniques may also include stretching and the use of scar massage tools.
  • Lymphedema Management: Lymphedema is a common side effect of mastectomy surgery. It is a swelling in the arm caused by the removal of lymph nodes. A physical therapist can help manage lymphedema by teaching you exercises to improve lymphatic flow and prescribing compression garments. Techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage may also be used to reduce swelling.
  • Posture and Breathing Exercises: Posture and breathing exercises can help improve chest wall mobility, prevent muscle imbalances, and promote relaxation. Your physical therapist may prescribe exercises such as shoulder blade squeezes and deep breathing exercises.

It is important to remember that recovery from mastectomy surgery can be a slow process. Working with a physical therapist can help ensure a safe and effective recovery. By following a prescribed exercise program and attending regular physical therapy sessions, you can improve your strength, mobility, and overall quality of life.