When undergoing surgery and radiation, skin changes are common. Our treatments accelerate healing, minimize pain, and restore skin shape, texture, and comfort. A physical therapy session that attends to scarring will include a variety of modalities such as soft tissue massage, compression, and topical creams.
Scar tissue is natural – it is the body’s way of healing from surgery or trauma. It can manifest as very dense tissue just under the incision, at the drain sites, and/or harvest sites. This is painful and can restrict the range of motion (ROM) of the limb and lymphatic flow. Sometimes, after breast cancer treatment, a “frozen shoulder” – one that is painfully restricted with a reduced level of function – may result from scar tissue at the surgical site or muscle spasm in the neck, chest, or upper shoulder due to compensatory movements. Physical therapy can restore functional ROM and strength, and may even return a patient to her previous level of shoulder function.
Tightness from the surgical scarring and radiation fibrosis can also rob people of their good posture – the tightening of tissue may pull at surgical and radiated sites, affecting posture. Manual physical therapy, followed by proper stretches and posture education, can reverse this process and helps to correct diminished posture. Improved posture can enhance lymphatic flow, easier breathing from rib expansion, and even proper digestion.