Treatment for Shoulder or Chest Pain After a Mastectomy

Many women have had difficulty using their arms and reaching overhead after a mastectomy causing pain and tightness in the shoulder. Some of the primary treatments for breast cancer can include lumpectomy, mastectomy, and radiation. All of these treatments can disrupt normal tissue in the chest and underarm area. These areas can become scarred or tight, which can limit the range of motion of the arm or cause pain in the arm or chest. Occasionally, this tightness persists or worsens weeks or even months after treatment. 

Treatment for this pain or loss of motion is often done by cancer rehab specialists. Cancer rehab specialists can include physical or occupational therapists that specialize in treating persons who either currently have cancer or are cancer survivors. They frequently see survivors who have had weeks, months, or even years of trouble using their arm. Treatment may include a specialized massage or manual therapy, as well as exercises to help stretch and strengthen the shoulder girdle and chest. Fortunately, treatment is usually very successful at improving people’s pain and improving their ability to comfortably use their arm for day to day activities. 

For more information on cancer rehab services, please contact CRH Rehabilitation Center at Marr Road at 812-372-3035, or talk to your physician about obtaining a referral. 
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