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Physical Therapy and Cancer: Should Physical Therapy Be a Component of Your Cancer Treatment?

lung cancer and physical therapy

Are you a cancer patient wondering if physical therapy can help with your symptoms?

As you experience a wide range of symptoms during your treatment, including pain and weakness, you realize that physical therapy may be worth looking into.

But since everyone’s health journey is unique, it’s hard to know if physical therapy will be particularly helpful for you.

In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of physical therapy during and after cancer treatment, and information about how physical therapy may be used to alleviate your symptoms.

Table of Contents

physical therapy and cancer

Can Physical Activity Help Prevent Cancer?

Regular physical activity can help people maintain a healthy weight, and it may even decrease the risk of certain cancers.

It has been proposed that physical activity may be able to prevent cancer in a variety of ways by:

  • Reducing bodyweight, which is associated with certain cancers. 
  • Decreasing levels of estrogen which is associated with breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
  • Producing beneficial changes in the body’s hormones that might help to prevent or limit some types of cancer.

In addition to lowering the risk of various cancers, exercise and physical therapy can reduce the risk of cancer and increase a person’s chance of surviving it.

The American Cancer Society, among other groups, recommends physical activity for those going through cancer treatment and recovering.

What Role Do Physical Therapists Play in Cancer Treatment?

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, more than likely, the last thing on your mind is doing physical therapy.

However, the lack of physical therapy services during and after cancer treatment is unfortunate because it’s a cost-effective form of care that can help many cancer patients.

Maybe you are doing your research on “lung cancer and physical therapy” or wondering, “What is oncology physical therapy?”

Physical therapists may be able to help cancer patients (who often utilize oncologists on their health care team) optimize their quality of life by…

  • Restoring function
  • Relieving pain
  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing strength
  • Maximizing endurance
  • Promoting mobility

… during and after treatment.

Professional physical therapists can also provide efficient and cost-effective methods to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Most importantly, physical therapists can work closely with your health care team to develop a personalized plan based on your needs and fitness goals.

At In Motion O.C., we understand how important it is for cancer patients and survivors to maintain their physical conditioning before, during and after treatment.

We’re dedicated to providing high-quality services in a comfortable environment where clients feel listened to and supported throughout every step of their recovery process – no matter what stage they’re at.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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3 Ways Physical Therapy Can Be Beneficial to Cancer Patients

Physical therapy offers several benefits for cancer patients during and after treatment, such as:

  • Increase strength
  • Decrease fatigue
  • Minimize pain

You may also find other aspects of their health improved due to physical therapy.

However, we will look into more details about three ways—not exhaustive by any means —that physical therapy can be beneficial to cancer patients.

#1: Increase Strength

Physical therapy is often used to help patients increase strength following surgery or chemotherapy.

It can be useful for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Improved quality of life
  • The ability to perform daily activities
  • The mental and physical strength to fight cancer

As professionals, physical therapists understand the importance of providing the necessary exercises that will help you increase strength.

They will also be able to show how these physical activities should be done correctly every day.

#2: Decrease Fatigue

Cancer patients often experience fatigue.

It can be a physical symptom or come from the mental and emotional toll of fighting cancer.

Physical therapists have found that they can decrease the feeling of fatigue by …

  • Incorporating mild stretching and yoga,
  • Using a combination of ultrasound and cancer physical therapy,
  • Focusing on relaxation techniques (ex: deep breathing), and
  • Giving the patient a chance to rest

… all which help restore energy in your body.

Your physical therapist will be able to assess you and determine which technique is best suited for your needs.

#3: Minimize Pain

Pain can come from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Cancer itself
  • The cancer treatments
  • Unrelated chronic conditions

The goal of physical therapy both during and after cancer treatment is to help you minimize pain and decrease the likelihood of developing chronic conditions.

Physical therapists use gentle stretching exercises and massages, which can help reduce pain.

Your physical therapist will work with you on a personalized plan that meets your needs.

cancer physical therapy

What Type of Exercise Is Good for Cancer Patients?

You should speak with your physician before beginning any new exercise routine. But generally speaking, cancer patients should do physical activity that does not cause a flare-up or increase in pain.

Some examples of exercises may include low-intensity cardio, such as:

  • Walking
  • Light stationary cycling
  • Yoga and tai-chi

These exercises are great ways to build endurance without taxing the muscles during cancer treatment.

Physical Therapy and Cancer: Establish Realistic Expectations of Your Physical Goals During and After Cancer Treatment

During your first appointment…

You may tell your physical therapist that you know that your balance is much worse than it used to be.

You may even share that it is difficult to walk or even stand for extended periods.

A physical therapist will also be able to assess and identify other kinds of significant functional deficits and prescribe appropriate and realistic physical goals — whether you are seeking physical therapy during or after cancer treatment.

What to Expect From Physical Therapy During Cancer Treatment

There are many ways to stay in shape physically while you’re undergoing cancer therapy.

A physical therapist can help by ensuring that your sessions with them are safe and what works best for you.

Your plan should consider the following:

  • Any exercise program you already follow
  • What you can physically do now
  • Any physical problems or limits you have

Cancer treatments can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Therefore, whatever your physical therapist suggests should also be something you enjoy doing.

What to Expect From Physical Therapy After Cancer Treatment

Your physical therapist will evaluate your progress and goals after completing cancer treatment.

They will be able to prescribe a physical therapy workout plan that can help you …

  • Build strength
  • Maintain flexibility
  • Improve coordination
  • Manage pain or discomfort

… and many other benefits that come from regular physical activity.

If you have any questions about cancer-related symptoms or rehabilitation following cancer treatment, talk to a physical therapist and see how they can enhance your post-treatment care.

lung cancer and physical therapy

In Motion O.C.’s Physical Therapists Are Here to Help Maintain Physical Conditioning Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment

It’s important to be physically active and in good shape during treatment, but we understand that you don’t always have the energy or motivation.

Our physical therapists at In Motion O.C want to come alongside, encourage, and assist you in staying active and in shape.

In Motion O.C.’s physical therapy clinic specializes in cancer rehabilitation for Orange County residents.

Our highly trained physical therapists will:

  • Work closely with you throughout your recovery process.
  • Help you get back into your normal routine as quickly as possible.
  • Minimize any potential side effects of treatment such as fatigue, pain, muscle spasms, etc.

At In Motion O.C., we want to ensure that every patient has access to great care at an affordable price point without sacrificing the quality of service or experience.

Our team of expert physical therapists is dedicated to helping you reach your fitness goals no matter how big or small they may be.

Contact us today.

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