It's National Physical Therapy Month! This movement highlights the importance of physical activity and the role PTs, PTAs, and PT students play in helping people get moving.

Inadequate physical activity results in an added $117 billion in health care costs in the U.S. and leads to reduced quality of life for millions of Americans.

As we struggle to address a global pandemic, it's more important than ever to encourage movement. Physical activity can help people manage pain and other chronic conditions, recover from injuries, and reduce the risk of future injury and chronic disease.

Your PT at CTS is ready to help. Call us and get MOVING! 858-457-8419

Follow us on social as we celebrate #PTMonth throughout October!
Breast Cancer and Lymphedema

By Candice Price, MS, OTR/L, CLT
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in 2020, approximately 30% of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.

  • There are over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

  • According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.
How is breast cancer and lymphedema related?

When breast cancer is detected, doctors will want to check to see if it's spread to other parts of the body. If cancer has spread, the lymph nodes that surround the tumor will show up positive for cancer cells, before it progresses throughout the body.

A breast surgeon will identify the lymph node closest to the tumor called the "Sentinel Node" and will do a biopsy or an axillary node dissection. During the surgery, the nearest lymph nodes will be removed and checked for the presence of cancer cells. 

Removing the axillary lymph nodes (located in the underarm) increases your risk for developing lymphedema.
What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition that is caused by a disruption or damage to the normal drainage pattern in the lymph nodes. It most often causes swelling of the arm, but it can also affect the breast, chest, and sometimes even the legs. The swelling, caused by an abnormal collection of too much fluid is called lymphedema.

The risk of developing lymphedema continues for the rest of your life. After lymph node surgery, if you experience unusual and painful swelling, you should immediately notify your doctor to monitor it. Some ways to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema following a lymph node surgical removal or radiation to the lymph node area under the arm are:
  • Avoid wearing tight rings, watches, or jeweler on the affected arm.

  • No needle sticks or blood pressures should be taken on the affected arm

  • Whenever a minor injury such as a small cut of the finger or arm occurs, immediately wash the area, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage.

  • Decongestive exercises
Stimulate the Lymph

Our lymphatic system serves the important role of carrying lymph fluid (full of cellular waste) ultimately to the kidneys, colon and lungs for elimination. If our lymphatic system is blocked or clogged, you may experience symptoms like back pain, constipation, fatigue, depression and weight gain. Exercise can help release blockages and promote healthy movement of nutrients and waste throughout the body.
Home Exercises to Stimulate the Lymph - Upper body
These exercises can help release lymphatic blockages and promote healthy movement of nutrients and waste throughout the body.

Exercise #1 "Ladder Climb"
In a seated position, reach up and overhead opening and closing hand as if climbing a ladder. Do this 10 times.
Exercise #2 "Standing Nerve Glides"
In standing, start with arm at your side. With elbow, fingers and thumb completely straight, move the arm up to shoulder height.
As the arm comes up, flex and extend the wrist as if waving. Only go as high as your shoulder allows comfortably. Do 3- 5 wrist movements on the way up and bring arm back down without moving the wrist. Do this three times straight ahead and three times out to the side. 

Perform these exercises 3-5x/day

GOOD NEWS! You don't need to spend hours at the gym to meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Nor do you need to purchase expensive equipment.

What's important is to find leisure-time physical activities that you enjoy, and do them regularly. By doing something you actually enjoy, like walking your dog or SUPing on the bay, you're more likely to stick with it.

If pain or a condition is holding you back, contact your physical therapist at CTS! We can help you get back to doing what you love. 858-457-8419 / (858) 457-8419 / Open Monday-Friday 7am-7pm