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Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation

Tips to Aid in Managing Tightness and Restriction After Undergoing a Mastectomy

Pain and tension can be a common occurrence for individuals following a mastectomy.  One of the underlying reasons is the formation of scar tissue after surgery.  Scars are composed primarily of collagen which is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the substance that holds the whole body together. It is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons.  The collagen observed in scar tissue has potential to be denser and less elastic than normal (pre-surgery) tissue.  After surgery and forward flexed posturing in the recovery period the tension that develops in the tissue can cause tremendous pressure on pain sensitive structures that can result in:

  • Pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased circulation
  • Lack of blood flow and lymph drainage
  • Internal adhesions around the organs
  • Nerve irritation
  • Postural misalignment
  • Muscle atrophy

The good news is there is help for this!  Myofascial release is a technique that eases constriction of the affected fascia, muscles, and joint dysfunction.  Treatment by the physiotherapist is aimed at restoring skin stretch close to the scar and making all soft tissue layers affected by the scar shift normally, one against the other. Treatment proceeds from the superficial layers into the deep layers by gentle tissue manipulation by the hands of a therapist.  An advantage of manual techniques is that the hand is an instrument which senses, establishing a feedback relationship.  This technique is performed in conjunction with self-release/relaxation techniques and gentle stretching to help fully lengthen the tissues.

Once the length of the tissues is restored, postural education and exercise begins.  Donna Sarna Physiotherapy offers a free 8 week rehab Pilates class to anyone who has gone through cancer treatment in the past year to help get you back on track!

Stay tuned for our next post on “What is Pelvic Floor Therapy”

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