Post-Mastectomy Physical Therapy

After a mastectomy and following cancer treatments, a patient can experience loss of both mobility and strength.

Scar tissue formation can be painful and can restrict movement in the shoulder…sometimes even leading to serious orthopedic side effects like frozen shoulder. Exercises to maintain shoulder range of motion and arm mobility may be prescribed as early as 24 hours after surgery.  

Patients may also experience nerve pain caused by scar tissue impinging on nerves. Manual therapy can help restore sensation and relieve nerve pain.

As part of a mastectomy treatment plan, your physical therapist will prescribe individualized exercises to help restore strength and promote good circulation. As rehabilitation progresses these exercises may be modified to meet new goals.

In many cases, our physical therapists have begun working with the patient prior to the mastectomy. Meeting with a physical therapist before surgery can help you feel more at ease and more confident in your overall recovery goals. It’s never too early to ask questions!

With physical therapy, the patient has an improved upper extremity mobility and strength baseline, so their future reconstructive surgeries have better recovery and faster outcomes.

Physical Therapy as part of a mastectomy treatment plan can have the following benefits:

  • Improved shoulder range of motion
  • Improved shoulder strength
  • Improved functional mobility
  • Improved posture
  • Decreased pain at the surgical site
  • Decreased edema on the affected side
  • Improved sensation at the surgical site

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