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All About Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Thanks to modern medicine, advances in early cancer diagnosis and treatment approaches have resulted in improved survival rates for breast cancer patients. The American Cancer Society estimates there are more than 4 million breast cancer survivors in the United State, including those still in treatment. Chances are, you or someone you know may be struggling with what many refer to as “their new normal” after treatment.  While the desired goal of treatment is obviously survival, many women often suffer long term side effects from treatment that can negatively impact quality of life. Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and lymph node removal saves lives, but can sometimes leave women struggling long after treatment with secondary issues that cause pain, limited range of motion, postural issues and more. Rehabilitative massage techniques specific to soft tissue (think muscles,tendons, and nerves) affected by breast cancer treatment  can greatly improve muscular function, increase mobility, lessen pain and enhance well being. This article will help you understand why Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation is so important and how it can benefit you or a loved one experiencing adverse side effects after breast cancer treatment.

breast cancer rehabilitation

What is Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation?

Soft tissue breast cancer rehabilitation is a specialization that utilizes a manual (hands-on) therapeutic approach for treatment of soft-tissue changes following lymph node dissection, surgery, reconstruction, radiation and chemotherapy specific to breast cancer. Breast cancer treatment can sometimes have long term effects on quality of life when issues such as axillary web syndrome (cording), postural issues, scapular dysfunction, pain, or limited shoulder range of motion are present. Adapted myofascial techniques and scar tissue massage are used to treat these and other issues that are often complicated by lymphedema or lymphedema risk. Surgery, radiation and lymph node removal are factors that put a person at risk for lymphedema, a chronic, lifelong condition that causes swelling and other complications due to impairment of the lymphatic system. Because certain massage techniques can precipitate lymphedema, it is especially important that clients with lymphedema or at risk of lymphedema work with a therapist trained in Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation.In addition,  these techniques can be utilized to relieve discomfort for clients going through the process of tissue expansion in preparation for breast reconstruction.

Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Improves 

  • Restricted range of motion

  • Chemo-induced neuropathy

  • Radiation fibrosis

  • Scar tissue adhesions

  • Axillary Web Syndrome (cording)

  • Scapular and postural issues

  • Myofascial pain and dysfunction

  • Discomfort after tissue expander fill

  • Breast reconstruction recovery

  • Reconstruction revision surgery recovery

What’s the Difference Between Oncology Massage & Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation?

Cancer patients at almost every stage of their experience can find comfort at the hands of massage therapists skilled in Oncology Massage. In addition to the general health benefits of massage therapy, patients are finding a respite from a number of physical, mental, and emotional  complications related to cancer and its treatment. But massage therapists trained in Oncology Massage are not necessarily trained in Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, just as therapists trained in Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation are not necessarily trained to do Oncology Massage. Therapists who practice Oncology Massage are trained to understand the effects of cancer treatment on the body and how to adapt bodywork techniques to ensure a safe, relaxing massage experience at any stage of oncology treatment. Massage Therapists trained in Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehabilitation are trained in understanding soft tissue dysfunction specific to breast cancer treatment and how to apply specialized, manual techniques  such as myofascial release and scar tissue massage to treat them.  Additionally, therapists trained in Lymphatic Drainage will be able to enhance the level of treatment, especially for those clients experiencing swelling, axillary web syndrome, at risk for Lymphedema or those already diagnosed with the condition.

How to find a Therapist Who does Soft Tissue Breast Cancer Rehab

There are numerous ways to find a massage therapist and there’s no wrong way to go about it. We suggest searching your local area for highly rated massage therapists who explicitly specialize in breast cancer rehabilitation massage. Read their reviews and  website thoroughly before making an appointment. You can also reach out to your network for recommendations or the medical clinic you frequent. A good therapist will always be willing to speak over the phone and answer any questions you or your doctor may have. Make sure to ask if they are licensed, what their education is and what kind of experience they have. At Modern Body you can count on over twenty years of experience, specialized training in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, Oncology Massage, Lymphatic Drainage and Scar Tissue Management.  

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