How Exercise Can Help Your Recovery From Breast Cancer

awareness cancer design pink
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Fiona McMahon PT, DPT

Have you noticed it yet? Everything is pink. Pink cups, pink pens, pink stickers, pink ribbons, pink everything. The flood of pink that happens every October and reminds us it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are someone you love has or has had breast cancer, chances are you don’t need any reminding. At Beyond Basics Physical Therapy we have spent a good deal of our blogs discussing the ins and outs of how PT can help with the symptoms following treatment for breast cancer. But what can you do right now to help your health? Emerging research is pointing to the profound importance of exercise on so many facets of well being for individuals with breast cancer. In this blog we will discuss some of the newest findings as well as practical ways to apply these findings in your own life. I hope you choose to read on and please share this with family and friends.

What the researchers are finding:

We know that to say breast cancer treatment can be hard is an understatement. The risk of symptoms like fatigue, sarcopenia (muscle loss), osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairments are all elevated in individuals who are undergoing or have undergone treatment for breast cancer. These symptoms can have a profound impact on quality of life, which breast cancer survivors should not have to accept. Luckily in researching this blog, I found so many studies examining how to improve the quality of life of people going through breast cancer treatment. As a physical therapist, the studies on activity naturally piqued my interest.

Three of the studies I looked at examined how structured and monitored physical activity helped out people undergoing breast cancer treatment and those who had already undergone it. The studies included workout programs consisting of cardio, resistance training, or a combination of both. The studies showed improvements in fatigue, depression, physical fitness, and quality of life immediately following the exercise program. In one of the studies that look at how long these effects lasted, the positive benefits were lost 36 weeks after completing the exercise program.

How to use these findings:

It’s probably not groundbreaking journalism on my part to tell you that exercise is good for you. But what I do find compelling is the amount that good exercise can do, even during treatment. So the question is how to make exercise work for you. First get your doctor’s clearance for exercise, because there may be some exercises to avoid, especially if you have had a mastectomy. Most of the studies I looked at examined structured and monitored programs run by a physical therapist or other healthcare professional, which I would highly recommend especially if you are not used to exercising. A skilled physical fitness professional, like a physical therapist or Pilates instructor can not only help you progress safely through different exercises, but they can also introduce you to fun exercises you may have never thought of. That said, the best exercise is the one you will actually do. Remember, the benefits of exercise will be lost if you aren’t consistent. Cancer treatment can often feel like a full time job and adding another appointment into the mix is often not very practical. The good news is that in the study by Gokal and colleagues, walking independently for 30 minutes 5 times a week reduced self reported cognitive failures in participants. So even if you can’t make it out to see someone, there still is a lot of good you can do for yourself on your own.

Practical tips:

  1. Start slow: be kind to you body and ease yourself back into exercise. “Chunking” or breaking exercise into smaller sessions is a great way to start
  2. Spark Joy: (Shout out to Marie Kondo) but exercise should not be something you dread the thought of. If yoga, or walking makes you wanna crawl under a rock and hide, it’s not for you and that’s okay. Approach exercise curiously and you will find one you love, or at the very least, don’t hate.
  3. Buddy up: in the spirit of sparking joy, having an exercise buddy will not only help you remain accountable, it will probably make the experience a heck of a lot more fun.
  4. Get help when you need it: If you are a brand new exerciser, are in pain, or just feel like your routine is getting stale, see a fitness professional. It’s a short term investment that will pay dividends in the future by making exercise more comfortable and fun.

Keep positive, keep moving and if you have any questions, give us a call!

Dieli- Conwright C, Courneya K, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Aerobic and resistance exercise improves physical fitness, bone health, and quality of life in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Research. 2018; 20 1:24

Gokal K, Munir F, Ahmed S, et al. Does walking protect against decline in cognitive function among breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy? Results from a small randomised controlled trial. PLOS ONE. 2018

Penttinen H, Utriainen M, Kellokumpu-Lehtinen P, et al. Effectiveness of a 12 – month Exercise Intervention on Physical Activity and Quality of Life of Breast Cancer Survivors; Five- year Results of the Brex- study. In Vivo. 2019. 33:881-888

Witlox L, Hiensch A, Velthuis M, et al. Four -year effects of exercise on fatigue and physical activity in patients with cancer. BMC Medicine. 2018; 16:86

March 6th is Lymphedema Awareness Day!

lymphedema

Victoria LaManna PT, DPT, CLT

March 6th is Lymphedema Awareness Day! The lymph system carries the body’s waste products, dead pathogens, and water. Eventually these substances are cleared by the body. Problems can occur if the lymph system gets blocked and cannot clear these substances. Problems with the lymphatic system can cause swelling in affected limbs, and sometimes pain, as well as fibrotic changes in the skin.

You can be born with issues in your lymph system which can cause primary lymphedema or you can have damage to your lymph system because of surgery or radiation treatments, especially for breast cancer.

If you are living with lymphedema, try these tips from the Mayo Clinic to keep your limbs as healthy as possible:

  • Avoid injections, vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring, or IV’s on the affected limb
  • Don’t wear tight fitting clothing or jewelry
  • Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures, like hot baths, or saunas
  • Monitor your affected limb for signs of infection, and go to the doctor if you suspect infection

 

You can also check out our list of Self Care Tips 

Physical therapy can help manage lymphedema, which requires a very specialized lymphedema certified therapist.  At Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, we are lucky to offer lymphedema treatment with our own Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Victoria LaManna, PT, DPT, CLT . If you are interested in starting your lymphedema treatment journey, call and make an appointment with Victoria today!

For more reading on lymphedema, check out our previous blogs:

Lymph Drainage  Therapy for Breast Health at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy

Beyond Basics’, Victoria LaManna Receives Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Certification

 

Sources
Ness S. Living with lymphedema: Take precautions, get support. 2011. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/lymphedema-management/bgp-20056387. Accessed February 10, 2017

Cycle For Survival is Back

cycleforsurvial-logo-web

Fiona McMahon DPT

It’s that time of year again! It’s time to lace up our sneakers, hop on our bikes and start gearing up for Cycle for Survival. Cycle for Survival is a nationwide event that raises funds to support research for rare and often underfunded cancers. What is really special about Cycle, is that 100% of proceeds are contributed to the research. Last year Beyond Basics was lucky enough to be part of a team that raised $47,000. This year, we are offering incentives to help push us well beyond $50,000. Individuals who donate over $30 dollars will be able to receive a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our excellent therapists.

Ways to donate:

To donate and receive a free consult

  • Call the front desk at (212)354-2622

To donate online

All donations will be eligible for a raffle to receive a Physical Therapy care package!

cycle

Lymph Drainage Therapy for Breast Health at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy

Victoria LaManna, PT, DPT, CLT

lymphAs Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, we at Beyond Basics are working hard to help spread the word on the importance of regular self-examination and early detection. For further review, please see our blog post from earlier this month.

In addition to regular self-examination, regular breast massage is shown to help increase the circulation in your breasts. Therapeutic breast massage can also lessen discomfort associated with breast cancer treatments, help relieve post-surgical symptoms, and reduce discomfort during pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning. Breast massage also contributes to improved skin tone while promoting relaxation and balancing your energy.
With regular massage, you will help diminish benign breast cysts while helping to flush lymph nodes and stimulating your glandular system. The breasts are soft tissue and do not have muscles to help them move, therefore they require assistance for improved circulation and lymph flow.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone lymph node removal, mastectomy and/or radiation, you may experience lymphedema. About 15-20% of women who have axillary lymph nodes removed during breast cancer surgery will develop lymphedema. Working closely with your medical team to manage lymphedema is key! A Certified Lymphatic Therapist (CLT) can effectively apply gentle hands-on techniques to help enhance circulation and drainage.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of protein-rich lymphatic fluid in the tissues that contributes to swelling secondary to blockage in lymphatic flow when nodes or vessels are damaged. Individuals who have lymphedema may complain of discomfort in the affected limb, feeling of fullness in the limb, fatigue, or decreased flexibility. They may also complain of breast pain, tight-feeling skin, difficulty fitting into clothes, or tightness when wearing rings, bracelets, or watches. Venous insufficiency and obesity can contribute to lymphedema.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) consists of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) that aids in the circulation of body fluids, drains toxins from the body, stimulates the immune system and the parasympathetic system, reduces pain and/or muscle spasms, increases ROM, and decreases swelling. CDT can be used to treat conditions such as post-surgery and scars, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, infertility, painful periods, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. In conjunction, it is important to have an exercise program of stretching and strengthening to get the maximum benefits of CDT. After treatment, the patient may experience increased urinary frequency or increased amount of urine, increased sleep time or better quality of sleep, tension release and/or emotional release, or improved senses.

If you are seeking treatment, you need to see a licensed healthcare provider that is trained in Lymphedema Drainage Therapy. To find a specialist in your area, go to www.apta.org and click on “Find a PT”, specializing in LDT. Alternatively, you can search through the National Lymphedema Network or the Lymphatic Association of North America (LANA).

victoria2016Victoria LaManna, DPT, CLT, is our lymphedema expert. If you have had a mastectomy and are unsure about lymphedema care, she is an excellent resource. She will be able to instruct you in self- care and lymphedema prevention measures. Physical therapy can also help to release scar tissue in the breast and upper arm area, regain strength in the arm, and ultimately improve your function. Visit us, and read up on Victoria’s bio here, as well as on our website at: www.beyondbasicspt.com/lymphedema.

PH101: Pain and Sexuality: Is it all in my head?

cute-couple-with-umbrella-in-blossom-field-web-header

By Fiona McMahon, DPT

Sex should feel good… really, really good. But when it doesn’t, you may start to wonder, what’s wrong with me? Am I broken? Am I a prude? Am I frigid? Painful sex isn’t something we talk about. No one would look at you twice if you walked into work complaining of pain in your elbow, but if you walk into work complaining about pain in you vagina or penis, you may end up having a meeting with HR.

On October 6th at 7pm, we at Beyond Basics are breaking down those taboos and having an educational seminar, followed by an optional question and answer session at the end. We will discuss the many causes of sexual pain and how physical therapy can help.  The event will be hosted by one of our therapists, Stephanie Stamas, DPT, ATC. Stephanie will give a detailed seminar about pelvic health and take time to clear up some common misconceptions many people have concerning their bodies and sexual function.

Please join us at our office at:

110 East 42nd Street, Suite 1504

New York, NY 10017
Register at: pelvichealth-101.eventbrite.com

Here is our line up of this and future classes

Pelvic Health 101 Fall- (003)

Beyond Basics’, Victoria LaManna Receives Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Certification

victoria2016Victoria La Manna, PT, DPT, CLT of New York, NY successfully completed Norton’s School of Lymphatic Therapy’s Lymphedema Certification Program. The certification signifies advanced skill in the application of complete decongestive therapy (CDT) in the treatment of lymphedema.

Lymphedema is the abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid due to a disorder of the lymphatic vessel or nodes. It is a chronic condition that will usually worsen over time if left untreated. Complex Decongestive Therapy is the conservative treatment of choice for lymphedema and is reimbursable in New York by medical insurance. CDT involves a regimen of manual therapy, medical compression (bandaging, wrapping of the area), skin care, aerobic conditioning, and isotonic exercises done during the therapy session and at home.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Therapy is a gentle hands-on modality used to stimulate lymph flow and its specific rhythm, direction, depth, and quality over the entire body. This technique is used to aid excess lymphatic fluid to healthy neighboring territories and return it to the intact lymphatic system. The effects of MLD consist of:
• Relaxation, analgesic, diuretic
• Increases performance of the lymphatic system
• Re-routes fluid from congested area
• Softens connective tissue

MLD may also benefit these conditions:
• Lipedema
• Phlebo-lymphostatic
• Post-trauma or post-surgical swelling and healing
• Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
• Cyclic-Idiopathic Swelling
• Inflammatory Rheumatism
• Migraine Headache
• Sinus Headache
• Scleroderma
• Chronic Fatigue
• Fibromyalgia
• General Relaxation

Victoria La Manna, PT, DPT, CLT earned, and successfully received, the 140-hour Lymphedema/CDT Certification which fulfills the requirements to sit for the national certification testing with the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA). Dr. La Manna is an expert physical therapist at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, which is located in midtown Manhattan. She began, and is currently the head physical therapist for, the Lymphedema Program, which addresses the upper and lower extremities and the trunk region in men, women, and children. She is a member of the Women’s Health and Orthopedic sections of the American Physical Therapy Association and the National Lymphedema Network. Victoria is also a member of the National Vulvodynia Association and the International Pelvic Pain Society.

Cycle for Survival: We need your support!

By Fiona McMahon, DPT

Cancer has directly or indirectly touched almost all of us. It has the ability to take from us: our health, our independence, our loved ones, and even our own lives. Cancer can strike throughout the lifespan and inflicts pain on both those suffering from the disease and those who love them. We at Beyond Basics want to support the research to defeat cancer. That’s why the crew at Beyond Basics is lacing up our cycling shoes to raise some serious money for Cycle for Survival.

What is Cycle for Survival? It’s an opportunity to do some good and give back. Cycle for Survival is a phenomenal fundraising organization that raises money to support research to fight rare (and usually underfunded) cancers. Participants raise money by obtaining donations and then going ALL OUT in the cycling studio.

Half of people who are battling cancer are battling a rare form of the disease for which much less is known about how to effectively treat it.  Cycle for Survival has raised 81.3 million dollars to date and 100% of that money has directly contributed to clinical trials and research studies for rare cancers.

We need YOUR help!  Please donate to our cause by visiting http://bit.ly/1lI5XjD

CFS 2016