Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Guidelines

The primary treatments for breast cancer (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) continue to lead to significant morbidity for many individuals diagnosed with this disease.  A number of physical impairments commonly result from treatments designed to save or prolong the lives of those affected.  These include impairments of upper extremity range of motion and strength, upper extremity and/or breast lymphedema, pain, fatigue, loss of sensation, and reduction in levels of physical activity and health-related quality of life.

Older woman holding weightsThe following 5 tips can help lower risk of impairments:

  1. Gentle range of motion exercises the first week after surgery.
  2. Active stretching exercises 1 week after surgery, or when the drain has been removed.
  3. Active stretching exercises continued for 6-8 weeks or until full range of motion is achieved in the affected upper extremity.
  4. Progressive resistance training can begin with light weights (0.5-1kg) within 4-6 weeks after surgery.
  5. Postoperative assessments should occur regularly up to 1 year after surgery.

This information is in line with the Institute of Medicine report ‘Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust’.

For further information on how you can start a progressive resistance training programme early please email marie@mariemurphyhealthfitness.com

Murphy METs Programme (Video)

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