Chemotherapy is a systemic drug treatment designed to weaken or destroy cancer cells. It does so by targeting the most rapidly dividing cells, and the collateral damage is indiscriminate in killing cancer cells versus other rapidly dividing but healthy cells. This is why chemo patients often lose their hair, as hair follicles have rapidly dividing cells.
Physical therapy likely isn’t the first medical treatment that comes to mind for breast cancer patients, as early cancer treatment is usually met with oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons. However, physical therapy can play an important role, especially in coping with chemo, especially because it can help improve common side effects chemo patients face. Your oncologist can help you understand any limitations you have, and explain how a physical therapist may help you cope with them or improve your physical restrictions. This can help patients continue to function as normally as possible before, during, and even after treatment.
How Does Chemo Cause Physical Limitations?
Physical therapy can benefit chemo patients with:
- Better immunity
- Range of motion
- Strength building
Make sure your oncologist is aware of all complementary treatments you are doing, such as physical therapy. While in physical therapy, you should clearly communicate any limitations you have, including a lymphedema diagnosis, restricted range of motion, anemia, low white blood cell count, and others you anticipate could be a hindrance in physical therapy. A physical therapist’s treatment plan often is used to help manage common side effects of breast cancer treatment, including loss of fitness from a lack of exercise.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to use physical therapy as part of your rehabilitation services for cancer treatment. However, many cancer survivors do not seek out rehabilitation services, even though it is highly beneficial, even in the aftermath of treatment. Stay tuned. Next week, we will delve into the topic of safe levels of exercise for breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer is never an easy diagnosis to face. Our compassionate physical therapists at ProFysio are eager to help you cope with any physical limitations breast cancer treatment has placed on you. Contact us today at (732) 812-5200 to book an appointment.