Rehabilitation & Lymphedema Management

For Patients Following Breast Cancer Treatment

The Rehabilitation team at Valley Medical Center would like to help you recover faster, and be able to return to your normal activities following your treatment for breast cancer. Please let your healthcare provider know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms beyond the normal post- operative period for healing (usually six weeks):

  • Pain in your chest or arm
  • Limited arm or trunk motion
  • Inability to perform normal daily functions
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Significant swelling of your arm, trunk, or breast

Your healthcare provider will help you determine if these symptoms are part of your normal healing process, or if you would benefit from the additional help from our rehabilitation team. A customized program will be developed for you, and may include any or all of the following:

  • Range of motion exercises, particularly for trunk and shoulder
  • Postural training
  • Gradual strengthening and conditioning exercises
  • Scar management
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Swelling management (see below)
  • Education about continued self care

In particular, if you notice swelling that persists in your arm or chest, your healthcare provider needs to evaluate if you may have early signs of lymphedema. This condition can occur following lymph node surgery or radiation therapy. Symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Swelling of the arm or trunk
  • Feeling of heaviness of the arm
  • Achiness or pain
  • Tight clothing or jewelry

Valley Medical Center offers highly specialized treatment for lymphedema called Complex Decongestive Therapy. This internationally endorsed approach consists of four parts:

  • Patient and family education for prevention and self-management
  • Manual lymph drainage to stimulate lymph flow through specialized massage
  • Compression with bandaging, garments, and occasionally mechanical pumps
  • Active exercises to help mobilize fluid and assist motion

Skilled therapists who have been certified by a 175 hour training course provide this specialized care. They will design a program to meet your needs, whether it’s for early management and education or intensive daily therapy. Valley Medical Center is a National Lymphedema Network sponsored treatment center.

To Make an Appointment

A referral from your healthcare provider is needed for treatment and payment by your insurance. Talk about your concerns with your provider and ask for a therapy referral. The Rehabilitation Department is located in the Northwest Pavilion of the hospital. To schedule an appointment, call 425-690-3650.