The Benefits of Physical Therapy During Cancer Treatment

Many people do not realize that physical therapy is an important part of cancer treatment, especially as it relates to quality of life during and after treatment. Physical therapy can help patients with cancer overcome pain, weakness and fatigue, as well as other physical changes as a result of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Physical therapy is commonly a part of the treatment plan for those diagnosed with breast cancer because of issues related to shoulder mobility and pain. Women who begin a post mastectomy physical therapy program within days of surgery have been proven to have a higher quality of life than those who do not.However, treatments for other types of cancer often find physical therapy under-prescribed – not because it isn’t beneficial, it’s often just overlooked.

A common side effect of lymph node removal, and radiation is lymphedema. This swelling occurs from a backup of lymph fluid under the skin and can occur weeks or years after surgery. The best way to prevent a lymphedema flare-up is to get educated about signs and symptoms, risk reduction activities, and begin a prescribed exercise routine. By working with a physical therapist that specializes in lymphedema and cancer rehab, treatment is personalized to your individual needs and functional goals. If you already have an exercise regimen, the physical therapist can also recommend exercise modifications that will enable you to optimize your physical condition.

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, it’s important to discuss the addition of physical therapy with your doctor as early as possible. Together, a plan can be made not only to get you on the road to recovery, but will have you back to enjoying life as quickly as possible.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Physical Therapy

March was national Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month. The public initiative is aimed at increasing understanding of this common medical condition and its complications. Deep Vein Thromboses (DVT), also known as a blood clot, affects up to 900,000 people in the United States annually, according to the CDC.

Deep Vein Thrombosis usually occurs in the legs but can also be present in other extremities, and can be very serious. Blood clots in the veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs – blocking blood flow. This, often life-threatening condition, is known as a pulmonary embolism.

DVT can be caused by a recent surgery or injury, medical condition, or could be an inherited condition.

Medical conditions that can increase your risk of developing a blood clot are:

  • Cancer
  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic venous insufficiency

Physical therapy is a method used to manage or decrease the risk of occurrence of DVT by improving the circulation deep in your veins. At Avila Physical Therapy, we work with patients to improve circulation by teaching them how to perform exercises that improve range of motion. We also recommend and provide compression garments that encourage circulation.

Medical-grade compression stockings provide graduated pressure that is firmer at the bottom of the leg and becomes less at the top of the garment. Because gravity makes it difficult for blood to flow in an upward direction, the graduation of pressure provided by the compression garments aid in improving blood flow back to the heart.

If you are pregnant, have a family history of DVT or blood clots, or had a DVT due to a medical condition, the therapists at Avila Physical Therapy in Greenville, NC can help you. Please contact our office to schedule an evaluation today!

Female Sexual Pain After Cancer

As more patients with cancer are surviving and living longer lives, new challenges emerge that may be difficult to address. For many female survivors, one of these challenges is a disturbance to their sex life. Many physicians and patients are unprepared to discuss these issues, and feel uncomfortable talking about them. This leads to conditions being overlooked and untreated.

A systematic review by two leading gynecologists found that prevalence of sexual pain ranged from 29 to 64%. The most common causes of sexual pain in women after cancer treatment are related to surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal changes.

Women’s Health PT can help with sexual pain, and allow these women to move forward through their recovery. Our Pelvic Health Therapist is also a member of ISSWSH, and is completing her fellowship in women’s sexual health with this organization.

Here is an excellent article that was published by Cure magazine that details the review. If you are having sexual side effects from cancer treatments, treatment is available! If you are interested in learning how our services can help you, call today to schedule an evaluation. You do not need a physician referral to schedule with our clinic. We look forward to meeting you soon!

Rehabilitating Cancer Care

It seems as if weekly we hear from a patient “why didn’t my doctor or surgeon tell me I would have these problems?” This is a common question after breast cancer surgery. Surgeons and Oncologists are focused on removing the cancer and focusing on a cure. Patients have learned to accept the pain and challenges as just a “new way of life.” Most patients do not know how to ask their providers or tell them what it is they need. They are so thankful for these doctors who have saved their lives, and are unsure how to bring up their new problems of limited daily function. “Just dealing with it” should not be the solution. Rehabilitation prior to and after surgery helps significantly impact a patient’s quality of life and physical functioning in everyday life.

Some issues patients may have are limited range of motion in their arm or shoulder, pulling in the chest or underarm, and myofascial pain like axillary webbing syndrome (cording). Physical therapists with special training can help with all of these issues, as well lymphedema concerns. It doesn’t matter if it has been just a few weeks since surgery or years, rehabilitation is possible. Physical therapists work with the surgeons and oncologists as part of the treatment team to enable patients to return to their usual activities they were able to do before their surgery.

In the State of North Carolina patients do not need a physician referral or prescription to attend physical therapy. They are free to schedule their own appointment. The most important thing for survivors to understand is that they deserve the opportunity to function optimally no matter their cancer.

Avila Physical Therapy specializes in breast cancer rehabilitation, as well as providing post mastectomy fitting services for patients that are in need of bras or breast prosthesis. Just like with physical therapy, a patient does not need a referral or prescription before coming in for a fitting, our office obtains all paperwork necessary on the patient’s behalf. We take post mastectomy fitting patients on a walk-in or appointment basis. If you have any questions about our services or wish to schedule an appointment please give us a call today at 252-215-5525.

Cure Magazine posted an excellent article on ‘Rehabilitating Cancer Care’, click here if you would like to read the article in full. Survivors and Caregivers can also subscribe to Cure Magazine for free on their website.

You Do Not Have To Live With Urinary Incontinence!!

You do not have to live with urinary incontinence!!

Recently there seems to be an increase in advertisements for urinary incontinence. Companies are promoting their bladder leakage pads, or their bladder support systems. While these ads focus only on the symptoms we can help solve the problem itself!

Urinary leaking is very common— at least 50% of all women will experience urinary leaking during their lifetime, and 30% of women will leak urine during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Urinary leaking is common in men as well, particularly post-prostatectomy.

Below are some misconceptions about urinary incontinence and how pelvic physical therapy can help:

  • If you’ve had kids, you have to live with urinary incontinence.
    • While urinary leaking is common with women during and following pregnancy, it’s not something you have to live with! Many changes occur during pregnancy and childbirth which make urinary leaking more common, such as weakened pelvic floor muscles or tears that occur during delivery. However, these muscles can be trained and strengthened with targeted exercise.
  • Urinary leaking is a part of normal aging.
    • Urinary leaking may be common in older adults, but it isn’t “normal.” Our body experiences many changes as we age, which may make leaking more frequent, but it isn’t inevitable or unchangeable.
  • Drinking less water will prevent you from leaking
    • The only sure thing reducing your water intake is going prevent is good hydration. Reducing your fluid intake makes your urine more concentrated, which can make urinary leaking worse, not better. Proper hydration is important for improving urinary leaking as well as total body health.
  • Surgery is the only treatment option.
    • Urinary incontinence can be caused by a variety of things, including weak or poorly coordinated pelvic floor muscles, bad habits, and more. Surgery isn’t appropriate for all kinds of leaking, and isn’t the only option in cases where it may be appropriate. Surgery is considered when other options, such as behavior changes and pelvic floor muscle training, have failed.
  • If you experience leaking, just do lots of Kegels to strengthen your muscles.
    • Not all leaking is from weak pelvic floor muscles. Muscles can be tight or poorly coordinated, so pure strengthening may not help the root issue. Additionally, many people don’t know how to properly perform a Kegel or pelvic floor squeeze, so they may not be using the muscles they’re trying to strengthen.
  • Urinary leaking only happens to women.
    • Many men have urinary leaking following prostate cancer treatment. Healthy habit changes and pelvic floor muscle training are effective in both men and women of all ages.

This is an informative article about urinary incontinence and how we can help!

Many women and men live with urinary incontinence on a daily basis. There is help to correct the problem! Visit our website to request an appointment or call our office at 252-215-5225 to schedule your evaluation today. Gain control of your incontinence, don’t let it control you!

Why Every New Mom Needs Physical Therapy

Pregnant and postpartum moms have lots of changes to their bodies! We can help you get stronger and stay strong after delivery. We can provide manual techniques, progressive exercises, and body mechanics training for all child care activities to protect your back and belly! More information in this article! Call to schedule your appointment today!

Help for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction during Exercise

We understand that talking about pelvic floor dysfunction can seem embarrassing for some women and, oftentimes, they brush off symptoms as something all women experience and “normal”. We can help get you back to an actual your actual “normal” at Avila Physical Therapy.

Kara Vormittag, M.D. is a sports medicine physician that estimates pelvic floor dysfunction affects more than 30 percent of women in the general population, and is likely higher—more than 40 percent—in female athletes. While many of us aren’t athletes, as women we should be exercising a minimum of three times a week to help keep our bodies healthy and strong and a leaky bladder can sometimes get in the way or completely eliminate our ability to do so.

“Anyone who is leaking or experiencing pelvic pain during exercise should be evaluated by a pelvic PT, because this is not normal.” says Allyson Daugherty, owner and physical therapist at Avila Physical Therapy in Greenville, NC. “No woman should be limited in her daily activities and it’s time we work together towards a solution.”

Kegels are often prescribed to women for strengthening of their pelvic floor, but a strong pelvic floor is not necessarily a functional one. All of these muscles are meant to work together rather than in isolation.

Diaphragmatic Breathing, sometimes referred to as abdomen or belly breathing, is the first key to learning how to relax those deep core muscles Engaging this group of muscles is equally as important as doing your kegels, especially to female athletes who enjoy running or fast walking.

If you are experiencing any bladder leakage or pelvic discomfort, please open that conversation with one of our therapists and let us help you find your new “normal”.

For more information on exercise and your deep core muscles, please read this informative article published recently in Runner’s World.