October is a special month for women all around the world. It’s a time to raise awareness about breast cancer, show support for those affected by it, and promote good breast health practices. As lymphedema-certified physical therapists specializing in women’s health, we’re here to provide you with valuable information and tips that will empower you to take control of your breast health and support those on their journey through breast cancer treatment and recovery.
Understanding Breast Health: Tips for Self-Exams
Breast health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being for women. Regular self-exams can help detect any changes early, potentially leading to early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes. Here are some essential tips for performing self-breast exams:
- Choose a Regular Time: Make self-exams a part of your monthly routine, ideally a few days after your period when your breasts are less tender.
- Visual Inspection: Stand in front of a mirror and inspect your breasts for any changes in size, shape, or skin texture. Look for dimpling, puckering, or changes in the nipple.
- Manual Examination: Lie down and use your fingers to gently feel your breasts, using a circular motion. Be sure to cover the entire breast and armpit area. Pay attention to any lumps, thickening, or pain.
- Know Your Body: Familiarize yourself with your breast tissue so that you can easily identify any changes. Remember that breast tissue can be lumpy, especially before menstruation, but any new, persistent changes should be reported to your healthcare provider.
Coping with Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and the treatment process can bring about various side effects. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and there are ways to manage these side effects. Some common side effects of breast cancer treatment include:
- Fatigue: Incorporate regular, gentle exercise into your routine and prioritize rest.
- Lymphedema: If you’re experiencing lymphedema, a common side effect of breast cancer surgery, we offer specialized guidance and techniques to help manage this condition.
- Pain: Our physical therapy services can help alleviate pain through exercises and manual techniques tailored to your needs.
- Emotional Well-being: Seek support from counselors, support groups, and loved ones to manage the emotional toll of breast cancer treatment.
The Role of Physical Therapy in Breast Cancer Recovery
Physical therapy plays a significant role in breast cancer recovery. As certified lymphedema specialists, we have expertise in helping you regain strength, flexibility, and mobility. We can also address issues such as lymphedema, scar tissue, and postural changes that may result from breast cancer treatment. As Pelvic Floor Therapists, we can help with new occurrences of urinary leakage or pain with intercourse due to hormonal changes from Cancer treatment. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us to create a personalized rehabilitation plan that meets your specific needs.
Exercise and Rehabilitation after Breast Surgery
After breast surgery, it’s important to gradually and safely reintroduce physical activity into your routine. Our physical therapists can recommend exercises that promote healing, reduce pain, and improve your overall well-being. These exercises may include:
Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle stretches and movements to maintain flexibility in the shoulder and arm on the affected side.
Strength Training: Targeted exercises to rebuild muscle strength, especially in the chest, arms, and back.
Lymphatic Drainage Techniques: Specialized techniques to manage lymphedema and reduce swelling
Breathing Exercises: Techniques to improve lung function and prevent complications.
Breast cancer awareness isn’t limited to just one month, but October serves as a powerful reminder to prioritize breast health and support those impacted by breast cancer. Remember to perform regular self-exams, seek help when needed, and consider the invaluable role that physical therapy can play in your breast cancer journey. By taking care of your breast health and being informed, you’re contributing to a brighter, healthier future for women everywhere. Together, we can make a difference. Schedule an appointment with us to properly treat lymphedema or to receive a lymphatic massage tailored to your specific needs. We’re here to support you every step of the way.