Written by: Lisa English, PT, DPT, WCS – Nesin Pelvic Health Clinic Director
I don’t often speak in absolutes, but I will say that physical therapy should be a part of a person’s cancer journey. The effects of cancer, and even more so the effects of cancer treatment, can negatively impact a person’s body. These effects can include weakness and muscle atrophy, fatigue, pain, balance problems, swelling, and scar tissue. Physical therapy offers treatment solutions for all of these effects!
Our clinic’s specialties allow us to also help with bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction that can come with certain cancers and their treatments as well. September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month (gynecological cancers include uterine, ovarian, vaginal, cervical, and vulvar) and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. What better time to look at what physical therapy can do to help recovery?
Physical Therapy for Pelvic Health
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation all affect the systems in our pelvic floor when utilized to treat gynecological and prostate cancers. To name a few, surgery can cause anatomical changes, chemotherapy may cause menopause-like symptoms in women, and radiation creates scar tissue that may affect bowel, bladder, and sexual health.
Physical therapy that focuses on the pelvic floor can help navigate these issues. We can work on regulating bowel and bladder function and reducing pain with these. We also use special techniques and tools to deal with scar tissue. And of course, if there is any urinary or fecal incontinence, we can assist with treatment of those as well!
Physical Therapy for Swelling and Lymphedema
General swelling and a diagnosis called lymphedema, swelling due to a failure of the lymphatic system, can result from cancer treatment as well. This is most often associated with breast cancer, but can be seen in any part of the body as a result of surgery, chemo, or radiation. There are physical therapists trained in specific techniques to reduce and prevent swelling due to cancer. In fact, our clinic has a therapist that is trained specifically in the management of lymphedema.
Physical Therapy for Strength and Conditioning
Most of us are familiar with this type of physical therapy. We are assisting with rehabilitating the body as a whole to improve strength, balance, and pain that occurs as a result of cancer and its treatment. Addressing weakness and pain also helps with combating fatigue. Therapists use their understanding of cancer treatment’s effects on the body, helping a patient progress and gain strength in order to return to their normal daily activities.
No matter what month it is, Nesin Pelvic Health is here to help you with your journey! If you think pelvic health physical therapy can help, give us a call today at 256-513-8442. Remember, your journey to wellness begins here!