Category Archives: Cancer Related Care

Cancer Fatigue Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy can Help Battle Cancer Related Fatigue

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Should you Consider a Physical Therapy Cancer Fatigue Program?

Cancer treatments are rigorous and can take a toll on the body. If you are feeling tired all the time you’re not alone. The number one complaint of cancer patients, affecting 78% to 96% of those undergoing treatment, is cancer related fatigue(CRF). The goal in Physical Therapy is to help you become as independent as possible. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms of pain or loss of function would benefit from an individualized physical therapy program.

Physical therapy can help you recover from:

  • Chronic pain
  • Leg pain
  • Shortness of breath after light activity
  • Difficulty walking short distance
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Extreme weariness and tiredness
  • Difficulty paying attention or concentrating

What to Expect from A Physical Therapy Cancer Fatigue Program

Licensed Physical Therapists provide specialized therapeutic services that address the needs of CRF patients. Therapy sessions last approximately thirty minutes to one hour, depending on the patient’s tolerance. The average number of visits per week is 2-3. The physical therapy program is concurrent with cancer therapy and may last throughout the entire treatment phase. Most programs require a thorough physical therapy evaluation and a team approach with your physician is maintained.

Consider it a stepping stone approach towards your recovery.

  • Address pain—which in turn can alleviate fatigue
  • Use non-drug based treatments such as physical modalities:
    – Soft tissue & joint mobilization
    – TENS
    – Heat/Cold
  • Coach patient on how to exercise
  • Alleviate musculoskeletal dysfunction
  • Improve posture
  • Combat effects of bed rest
  • Help to maintain muscle strength and flexibility, and restore muscle balance
  • Help to decrease depression by increasing endorphins
  • Improve balance
  • Improve endurance
  • Core body strengthening

Lady bandana

The Motivation Behind a Cancer Recovery Program

From a physical therapy perspective, one of the main reasons for helping cancer patients comes from seeing individuals for pain problems who were S/P cancer and chemo/radiation. When asked about their the post-treatment care, they said that either; there was none provided, or that they got a few sessions with a lymphedema nurse. Their fatigue and pain symptoms were not addressed.

In looking at what was offered in the community (with the exception of lymphedema nurses) there appeared to be no one addressing the cancer patients—once medical treatment had been completed.

Previous advice for cancer patients was often to get more rest and avoid activities that are physically challenging. Recent studies have shown that exercise was found to be effective in preventing or reducing CRF. No adverse effects of exercising have been reported. Identified as “remarkably underutilized”, exercise is one of the few interventions suggested to diminish CRF and other psychosocial symptoms. If you are struggling to regain your strength and endurance talk to your physical therapist and see if they offer a cancer-related fatigue program that can help you get back to doing the things you enjoy.

Information Provided by PTandMe Physical Therapy Partner, Advance Rehabilitation. Advance Rehabilitation has locations throughout GA and Northern FL. More information about Advance Rehabilitation can be found on their website at www.advancerehab.com.

For more information on cancer-related physical therapy programs click here:

    
physical therapy and ovarian cancer

Physical Therapy and Ovarian Cancer

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physical therapy and ovarian cancer

Every 23 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which is the number one cause of gynecologic cancer deaths. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of that, here is some information on what exactly ovarian cancer is and how adding physical therapy into a treatment plan can be beneficial.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer is a disease where different types of malignant tumors develop in the ovaries and eventually can spread to the pelvis and abdomen in later stages. Early on, it is easier to treat and the treatments are more successful. Unfortunately, the disease is most often caught in the later stages when its harder to treat because this is when the symptoms first start to present themselves. Other lesser health problems share many early symptoms of ovarian cancer such as fatigue, changes in menstruation, and bloating, which leads to ovarian cancer often being misdiagnosed as more common health issues.

Physical Therapy and Ovarian Cancer

Because physical therapy may not be the first route of healthcare cancer patients think of, most people are unaware of how helpful it can be to add it into a cancer patients exercise regimen. There is recent research on how adding physical therapy into a patient’s treatment plan can improve daily function, quality of life and health. Not only can it be helpful during treatment, but also during recovery. Because of the ever-increasing survival rate of cancer, more recovery strategies, like physical therapy, are being studied.

The course of treatment for cancer is grueling and leaves many patients exhausted and sometimes incapable of doing mundane tasks. Individualized exercise programs can be designed by physical therapists to be both safe and practical for each patient. There are certain things that should be taken into consideration by your physical therapist while discussing a new exercise program:

  • Current Exercise Regimen
  • Physical Limitations
  • Capabilities During/Post Treatment

It is recommended to do both moderate and vigorous exercises before, during, and after the treatment of ovarian cancer to improve the outcome as well as prevent recurrence. Some examples of this are:

  • Moderate Bike Riding
  • Brisk Walking
  • Badminton
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Basketball

There are certain things that should be taken into consideration by your physical therapist while discussing a new exercise program:

  • Current Exercise Regimen
  • Physical Limitations
  • Capabilities During/Post Treatment

The main focus of creating an exercise program for a cancer patient is to simply increase heart rate and muscle flexion through minimal physical exertion in order to boost tolerance for treatments. Things you can expect to be included in a physical therapy program for ovarian cancer patients may include:

  • Flexibility Exercises
  • Strength Training
  • Range-of-Motion Training
  • Light Resistance Exercises
  • Cardiovascular Activity

If you are interested in adding physical therapy to your treatment plan, talk to your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in working with oncology patients.

Lymphedema

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema?

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Lymphedema

Lymphedema can occur in any body part. Some common early symptoms include:

  • Tightness, swelling or thickening anywhere in the extremity. Initially the swelling may fluctuate but over timeit worsens.
  • A burning sensation or tingling sensation radiating down the extremity.
  • Complaints of heaviness or aching of the extremity.
  • Inability to wear rings, jewelry, watches or clothing secondary to edema.

STAGE 1 – Reversible Lymphedema

  • Lymphedema disappears with bed rest and/or elevation especially over night.
  • Edema is soft and pitting, no resistance is felt. Indentations are easily made.
  • No or little fibrosis. No alteration of tissues.

STAGE 2 – Irreversible Edema

  • Protein enriched edema which does not decrease with elevation/nights rest.
  • Connective and scar tissue formation (i.e. fibrosis). Fibrosclerotic changes.
  • Non pitting edema, strong pressure is able to produce pitting.
  • Edema becomes hard. Indentions are difficult to make.

lymphedema

Precautions and Guidelines

  • Maintain a well balanced diet, with low sodium intake. Keep a healthy weight, avoid obesity. Good nutritional guidelines are provided by the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.
  • Keep the affected arm or leg, clean, and well moisturized. Lotion should be at a relatively low pH balance. The goal is to prevent skin breakdown.
  • Use antibacterial and hypo-allergenic soap when washing.
  • Avoid injections, vaccinations, flu shots, blood draws and IV lines in the affected extremity. Remember, if this is an emergency, it is more important to treat the patient than to worry about putting an IV in the affected arm.
  • If at all possible, avoid having blood pressure taken in the affected arm.
  • Many people enjoy having a manicure. There is always a risk with this but you can decrease your risk by keeping your cuticles moist with lotion and push them back instead of cutting them. You could also consider buying your own manicure set and have the salon use only your tools.
  • When cleaning the house, wear a good quality rubber glove when handling harsh chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, furniture polish, abrasive cleansers etc.
  • Avoid using a razor or depilatory creams for the armpit or leg hair. The safest tool would be an electric razor.
  • When cooking, wear long protective mitts (to the elbow) when taking food out of the oven and when boiling a pot of hot water.
  • It is important to avoid pet scratches, insect bites, spider bites etc. Using an insect repellent may be necessary but remember some brands are very harsh. Look for a natural insect repellent if possible.
  • Avoid sunburn at all cost! Especially if you have received radiation therapy.
  • Be aware of items that can cause a burn such as a curling iron, an iron, space heaters etc.
  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and hot showers. Avoid extreme temperatures, very cold or very hot.
  • Avoid lifting or moving heavy objects.
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing or jewelry.
  • Exercise, and be knowledgeable of how exercise effects the lymphedema.
  • Check your skin daily, and call your physician immediately if you notice any adverse changes in your lymphedematous body part or if you have fever and redness.

 

Additional Precautions for Leg Lymphedema

  • Proper shoe wear is essential in avoiding blisters and ingrown toenails, avoid high-heeled shoes.
  • Do not walk bare foot, especially outside.
  • Get all fungal infections treated immediately.
  • Do not receive injections to remove varicose veins in the affected leg.

This information is for educational purposes only. This information should not be used without consultation with your healthcare professional. If you have questions regarding the material or its application, seek professional assistance from your provider. This information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace healthcare professional consultation.

 

breast cancer physical therapy

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2017

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There were 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2012 worldwide. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are providing this helpful information, facts and statistics about breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow without their normal control. Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years. (Some tumors are aggressive and grow much faster.) Between 50-75 percent of breast cancers begin in the milk ducts, about 10-15 percent begin in the lobules and a few begin in other breast tissues [4].

Learn more about breast anatomy.

Non-invasive breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) occurs when abnormal cells grow inside the milk ducts, but have not spread to nearby tissue or beyond. The term “in situ” means “in place.” With DCIS, the abnormal cells are still inside the ducts. DCIS is a non-invasive breast cancer. You may also hear the terms “pre-invasive” or “pre-cancerous” to describe DCIS. Although DCIS is non-invasive, without treatment, it can develop into invasive breast cancer.

Learn more about DCIS and the risk of invasive breast cancer.

Learn about treatment for DCIS.

Did you know?
In 2017, it’s estimated that among U.S. women there will be*:

  • 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer
  • 40,610 breast cancer deaths
  • 50,000 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive breast cancer

There are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. today. Thanks in part to Susan G. Komen’s investment in research in early detection and treatment, breast cancer mortality (death) in women in the U.S. declined by 38 percent from 1989-2014 [1].

*American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2017.

Content provided by Susan G. Komen. For more information visit the Susan G. Komen website by clicking here.

physical therapy cancer

How Physical Therapy Can Benefit Cancer Patients

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HowPhysicalTherapyCanBenefitCancerPatients_FBsize

Mesothelioma can be one of the most difficult forms of cancer to treat. It is an aggressive illness that starts in the interior lung lining after exposure to asbestos fibers and it quickly spreads to the chest and lungs. As such, an equally intensive form of chemotherapy is often employed as a way to combat the spreading cells. However, this can leave the patient feeling fatigued and distressed. In order to deal with such side effects, many medical professionals recommend alternative treatments, such as physical therapy cancer related fatigue programs as a way for patients to begin feeling better during the recovery process.

Improved Mobility

One of the biggest benefits that physical therapy cancer programs can have for individuals is providing them with a way to improve their mobility. This can be invaluable in improving the patient’s mood as well. With more mobility, the patient will be able to exercise more efficiently, which can lead to a greater degree of independence. Patients can enjoy other activities that they used to engage in as well, such as drawing or walking, and the greater degree of mobility can also be invaluable in reducing long-term pains from staying in bed. As such, physical therapy is often recommended early for those who feel as though they have been cooped up in bed for too long as they recover.

Improved Overall Fitness

Because physical therapy cancer programs are designed to fight against muscular dystrophy, it can be one of the best methods to keep patients healthy. Because so much of the early chemotherapy process requires for individuals to stay relatively stationary to recover, it is not uncommon for many to begin losing muscle mass and feel weaker overall. Physical therapy helps exercise muscles, bringing necessary strength back to the patient as they continue to recover. As the body becomes stronger, the patient will be able to fight against the mesothelioma more efficiently, reducing potential issues in the future of the recovery.

cancer_patient

Improved Respiratory Health

Because of how dangerous the growths are, they can severely impact the way the individual breathes. With poor respiratory health, the patient may feel distressed, and the recovery process may be more difficult that it needs to be. Through physical therapy, the patient is able to improve their ability to breathe, reducing their risk of running into future respiratory issues. Improving breathing function also provides the patient with more support on a cellular level. As lung function improves, the mesothelioma begins to slowly lose ground, resulting in a smoother and more enjoyable healing process for the patient.

Those who are interested in learning more about their physical therapy options should be sure to contact their medical professionals as soon as possible. Through the right basic exercise system, it can be easy for individuals to start to feel better and get their strength back. Like any other such recovery process, however, it is vital for patients to take the recovery slow to build up their strength and improve their outlook in the future.

For more information on cancer related physical therapy programs click here:

    
kinesiotaping helpful for lymphedema patients

Kinesiotaping Helpful for Lymphedema Patients

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kinesiotaping helpful for lymphedema

In most stages Lymphedema cannot be cured, but it can be managed. The goal of physical therapy for Lymphedema patients is to control pain and minimize swelling. As a result, we have that kinesiotaping can be helpful for lymphedema patients.

Kinesiotaping  has been found to be very effective in combating and controlling swelling and Lymphedema. Kinesio tape works to decrease swelling and Lymphedema by increasing interstitial lymphatic fluid flow and enhance fluid exchange between tissue layers, thus decreasing swelling. The tape will “channel” the exudates to less congested areas through the superficial pathways. The tape gently lifts the skin, causing convolutions and creating channels of low pressure in the congested areas of the extremity. The tape is applied with very low tension to the point that the patient hardly notices the tape is there.

[ Some of the advantages of Kinesio tape are]

  • The patient will have freedom of movement more than with the conventional ace wrap.
  • Able to reduce Lymphedema in the trunk, head and neck – places where compression therapy is difficult
  • It can help soften fibrosis
  • Can be used in combination with and worn underneath compression bandage.
  • The tape does not fall down the patients leg or arm like the ace tends to do as the day progresses.
  • Kinesio tape can stay on for up to 3-5 days at a time instead of having to be reapplied daily.
  • Patients are allowed to shower with the tape on and it won’t come off.
  • The tape is hypo allergenic and very easy on the skin
  • Tape can be applied in a relatively short period of time, thus not consuming a large portion of the patient’s day, to allow them more time to do other necessary daily tasks. The procedure is quick and especially effective when combined with physical therapy treatments.

It is important that Kinesio tape initially be applied by an appropriate medical professional to best utilize its abilities. Physical and occupational therapists can be trained and certified in these taping techniques.  A therapist will typically conduct an evaluation and determine the best course of treatment.  Professionals can use Kinesio taping in conjunction with other modalities and treatment techniques in the clinic or at home.

Patients with Lymphedema  are at a higher risk of developing skin irritation. Kinesio tape is latex free, but if you do have a history of skin irritation you may want to consider opting out of taping as part of a therapy plan.

To learn more about Orthopedic Kinesiotaping visit our treatment technique section here

More PTandMe articles about Kinesio Taping can be found here:

kinesio taping pain relief  remove kinesio tape