Rehabilitation Following Breast Cancer Treatment

Rehabilitation Following Breast Cancer Treatment

Women who have undergone surgery or taken radiation or chemotherapy to treat breast cancer usually need some additional care and help to resume their normal activities. In other words, further therapy is essential for rehabilitation after breast cancer treatment. Some such rehabilitation therapies include exercise, occupational and physical therapy. This help lessens pain, weakness, and weariness. In addition, they also help in dealing with lymphedema (in this case, swelling of the breasts, which is often a side effect of different treatments for breast cancer. 

Rehabilitation after breast cancer treatment depends on the specific requirement of each patient. Some may require additional help while they are undergoing breast cancer treatment, while others need it afterward. Rehabilitation services may be available at the home, hospital, or any rehab center. If you need a rehab program, it is always advisable to consult your doctor to find one that is best for you. 

Physical Therapy 

Women may experience pain, numbness, stiffness, limited movement, or any other physical problem following breast cancer treatment. Doctors may recommend physical therapy for rehab of such patients. In fact, physical therapists specialize in helping people with ailments or injuries to recuperate faster and, at the same time, deal with pain and problems related to movement. 

It is advisable that when you visit a physical therapist for the first time, you should discuss your pain, swelling, movement problems, and other issues with them. On their part, the physical therapists will examine how you move your upper body and check your posture, arms and shoulders. Subsequently, they will suggest to you the type of physical therapy that is best for you. In addition, the physical therapist will chalk out a plan for how to deal with your problems. 

Usually, your physical therapy sessions will include the following: 

In addition, the physical therapist may also instruct you on ways to safely include more activity in your daily life. However, you need to bear in mind that you should not push yourself too hard at the beginning itself. The objective of physical therapy is to reduce your discomfort, improve your movement and provide you with more energy. 

Occupational Therapy 

The focus of occupational therapists is to help you to perform your routine tasks, such as getting dressed everyday morning to going to work. 

Similar to physical therapy, occupational therapy also helps you set specific goals and discover ways and means to achieve them. Your occupational therapist will examine the areas where you struggle in your daily duties and offer solutions to help. 

The occupational therapist may come up with the following solutions: 

  • They may suggest different ways to do activities, including using adaptive devices 
  • Show you ways to change your lifestyle or home to make things easier  
  • Help you prioritize and schedule tasks to make the most of your energy 
  • Teach you relaxation techniques to help manage pain or stress
  • Give you exercises to strengthen muscles you use in daily life 
  • Help you to manage problems like “chemo brain” that affect your thinking 
  • Show you ways to deal with lymphedema, including exercise and skincare 

During your sessions with occupational therapists, you should focus on the most important daily tasks. At the same time, try to get tips on how to sleep and eat better to ensure that you have more energy. You may also join a support group to reduce your stress and feel more in control of your situation. 


Some patients may not require physical therapy after breast cancer treatment. Nevertheless, doctors may suggest that they do safe, low-impact exercise at home to recuperate better and faster. However, it is advisable not to start a fitness regimen without the approval of your doctor. They know best when you are ready for it. 

Easy exercises help you get back to your normal routine. Research shows that exercise can boost survival rates in people with breast cancer. 

Doing low-impact exercise offers several benefits, including the following: 

  • It helps to keep your arm and shoulder mobile after surgery or radiation 
  • Reduce fatigue caused by cancer or its treatments
  • Reduce nausea from chemotherapy 
  • Improve your sleep 
  • Lower stress levels 
  • Improve your sex life  

For those who are not sure how to start, it is better to partner with a certified exercise trainer. They should look for a certified exercise trainer with experience working with breast cancer survivors.

The Editorial Team

The Editorial Team

Hi there, we're the editorial team at WomELLE. We offer resources for business and career success, promote early education and development, and create a supportive environment for women. Our magazine, "WomLEAD," is here to help you thrive both professionally and personally.

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