Physical Therapy for Post-Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment has come along way, luckily with increasing survivorship and decreasing side effects. Even with all the advancements in cancer treatment, problems and side effects can still occur and linger. Often clients aren’t given options for post-cancer rehabilitation.

Physical side effects of cancer treatment include joint dysfunction and impaired mobility, joint, tissue, muscle and/or nerve pain and Lymphedema. Those treated for cancer can be left with an altered or impaired quality of life both physically and emotionally if these physical changes aren’t addressed.

Physical Therapy is a non-invasive approach that can help to reduce pain/swelling and increase tissue/joint mobility and overall function. As a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Julie has been treating cancer and post-cancer clients for over 10 years. She has the pleasure of helping people not only through the cancer treatment process but also with rehabilitation post-cancer treatment to help restore their body. Julie’s background in lymphology and pelvic floor dysfunction provide her with a unique ability to treat most types of cancers including breast, prostate, gynecological cancers and lymphomas. Julie offers a variety of treatment techniques and modalities to manage and overcome the painful and debilitating effects that can result from these conditions.

Common Symptoms Post-Cancer Treatment

  • Axillary Web Syndrome
  • Bowel/Bladder Dysfunction
  • Breast Asymmetry or Deformity
  • Connective Tissue Pain and Immobility
  • Decreased Strength
  • Edema and Lymphedema
  • Limited Joint Mobility
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Sexual Pain/Dysfunction

What Can You Expect During Your First Visit

The initial evaluation consists of a thorough review of medical history and symptoms and specific goals of each client. Next, Julie performs a physical examination addressing the whole person but specifically at the site(s) of dysfunction with respect of comfort/pain level. Client education begins at the first visit, which includes developing a detailed treatment plan. Treatment plans are specific to each individual and can include:

  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Scar/Myofascial Release
  • Range of Motion and/or Strengthening Exercises
  • Edema/Lymphedema Prevention or Treatment

Lymphedema Program

Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part, due to abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid. This is condition can occur from a deficient or damaged lymphatic system. Lymphatic deficiencies can result from surgery, radiation, disease or injury.

Julie’s ultimate goal is to provide prevention education to those who may be at risk for Lymphedema, often after cancer surgery. For those who have Lymphedema, she focuses on achieving maximal edema reduction and teaching her clients the skills needed to manage the condition independently.

Lymphedema Treatment

Phase 1: The first phase of treatment is primarily focused on edema reduction and client education. The treatment occurs 3-5 times per week and can last between 2-4 weeks. It involves:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Compression Bandaging
  • Skin Care
  • Exercise
  • Self Care Training

Phase 2: If edema reduction continues to be a goal, Julie continues the Phase I treatment techniques on a more infrequent basis and expands the focus of the treatment. During phase 2, the treatment focus expands to include client education for managing their care at home independently. This phase includes wearing a daily compression garment and possibly learning to bandage their limb at night or using other special nighttime compression garments.

"Thanks to my work with Julie Bottarini, my lymphedema has stabilized and been under control for over five years. Julie individualizes each patient's treatment and works with you to develop an optimal regime that fits both your needs and your lifestyle. She is open and flexible and is always considers alternative options that might improve your condition. I cannot recommend her highly enough." ~ Ellin K.