Oncology Physical Therapy
Oncology physical therapy addresses impairments associated with cancer treatment, related to:
Strength and range of motion
Balance and gait training
Scar and tissue tightness and restriction
Pain, endurance, balance issues and fatigue
Axillary web syndrome (cording)
Pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence
Pre-operative mobility assessment
Post-operative mobility assessment
Individualized post-operative exercise programs
Oncology rehabilitation is a type of therapy that helps individuals achieve improved physical function during and after cancer treatment. Therapists receive specific training to address the unique needs of individuals undergoing or recovering from cancer surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Oncology rehabilitation can help those recovering from most types of cancers, including but not limited to breast, head and neck, lymphoma, cervical, bladder, prostate, and colorectal.
Surgical treatment for cancer can lead to tissue tightness and scarring, decreased range of motion, swelling, and pain. Physical therapy utilizes manual techniques and gentle exercises to assist in improving tissue quality, endurance, motion, circulation, and reducing pain. Among uro-gynecological cancers, incontinence and pelvic pain are common side effects.
Radiation treatment can cause fatigue, swelling, and hardening of tissues which may create restrictions in motion and poor tolerance to activity. Oncology rehabilitation can help with use of energy conservation techniques, range of motion, endurance exercises, and tissue/muscle mobilization.
Research shows that an exercise routine can help decrease some of the side effects of chemotherapy, including fatigue, joint pain, neuropathy and difficulty sleeping. Physical therapy can assist in developing a safe and appropriate exercise routine to help reduce these potential chemotherapy side effects.
Pelvic Floor Rehab
Pelvic floor physical therapy helps resolve issues such as:
- Urinary incontinence (including urgency, frequency, and retention)
- Fecal incontinence (including urgency, frequency, and retention)
- Pelvic pain
What is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor describes a group of muscles that span from your pubic bone to your tailbone. Their functions include:
- Core strength
- Organ support
- Sexual function
Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur due to muscular issues in the pelvis including:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle tightness
Pelvic Floor Rehab may include:
- assessing flexibility and strength
- postural exercises
- myofascial release and trigger point techniques
- pelvic region external or internal manual treatment
- relaxation techniques
- personalized home exercise program
How is my pelvic floor impacted by cancer treatment?
Individuals undergoing cancer treatment may have changes in their pelvic floor function due to:
- Hormone treatments using aromatase inhibitors and tamoxifen can make the muscles and the tissues of the pelvic floor weak and thin. This can lead to incontinence and pelvic pain.
- Treatment for prostate, rectal, and colon cancer can cause muscle and nerve damage to the pelvic floor region that can lead to incontinence and pelvic pain.
- Treatment for all uro-gynecological cancers can also negatively impact your pelvic floor muscles leading to incontinence and pelvic pain.