After breast surgery, patients may experience stiffness, tightness and pain in the upper body. There may be less flexibility, strength and ability to move the shoulder in all directions.

These effects can make simple tasks such as picking up a child, trying to reach a shelf, driving, dressing or bathing difficult.

Using a holistic approach that brings together mind, body and spirit, The Valley Hospital's occupational therapy team helps patients after mastectomies, lumpectomies, axillary dissections, reconstructive surgeries and other procedures. Your goals and concerns are the priority when your therapist plans your individualized program. We help you to regain independence and re-establish the lifestyle you enjoyed before your surgery.

The sooner you begin occupational therapy, the better the results. It's best to start before stiffness sets in and lowers your ability to function.

Designed with a focus on your needs, exercises can be modified to meet your unique lifestyle goals. Treatment may include, but is not limited to:

  • Instruction in shoulder and trunk exercises that increase range of motion, flexibility, and strength
  • Education on how to reduce pain and tightness in the arm and chest wall
  • Help with performing daily activities 

Your occupational therapist will also teach you about avoiding injury and infection after surgery. (If you have continuous or unusual swelling, we recommend that you call your physician.)