Breast Cancer Physical Therapy

Breast cancer physical therapy spokane valley washington coeur d alene idaho hayden lake idaho

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the US. The challenges that patients, their families and friends have to face together, can often seem insurmountable.

At Lake City PT we understand this and we take pride in providing breast cancer physical therapy to our community.

Sheree DiBiase, PT and her team have been providing breast cancer physical therapy in the Spokane Valley, Coeur d’Alene and the Hayden communities since the early 90’s.

How Do Physical Therapists Help Breast Cancer Survivors

A physical therapist’s role in breast cancer care is to help patients manage the physical changes that occur due to resulting surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and their likely side effects. After a breast lumpectomy, partial mastectomy or full reconstruction their can be many changes to the bodies myofascial structure, lymph network and circulatory system.  

These changes can be decreased with PT intervention strategies to insure excellent healing potential. Breast cancer patients may have swelling and pain in the chest wall or under their armpit. They may have tightness or numbness in those same areas as well. They may have tissue tightness and scarring that tugs and pulls when they attempt to move their arms. They may have a loss of shoulder, neck or trunk mobility.

These challenges can be overwhelming to face, but breast cancer physical therapy can support these systems and restore them to their potential with minimal side effects.

At Lake City PT we have a Four Step Oncology Management System where we focus on skin mobility and health, resetting the  lymph system if lymph nodes have been removed or disrupted, specific exercises to activate the system and strengthen the surrounding muscles, self care with the use of lymph massage, home exercises and compression garments as needed.

The combination of these 4 things help the body regain it’s previous balance and assist our breast cancer survivors in returning to their active lifestyle.

Need breast cancer physical therapy? We’ll help  you get a doctor’s referral. Use the form below or call (509) 891-2623

Breast Cancer Rehabilitation: A Day In The Office

A typical visit to Lake City PT for breast cancer care is an hour appointment.

These appointments consist of hands-on care with emphasis on assessing the bodies need each visit and helping the tissue have an optimal environment for healing, while progressing joint mobility and pain free functional strength training.

Exercise in our clinic consists of activities that help reteach our body specific motor functions after breast cancer. Stretching is begun to decrease pain, nerve irritation and increase mobility. For a pdf with examples of these exercises please look below.

Our staff is trained in Lymphedema Management and this includes, hands on lymphatic massage to redirect the flow as needed, scar tissue massage, use of multicomponent bandaging to decrease swelling and pain,  compression garments for high risk activities when lymph nodes have been removed, skin care and exercise to decrease pain and swelling and increase mobility and strength.

Muscles atrophy or “shrink” within 3-5 days of non-use, and often are affected during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Because of this so strength and aerobic exercise is very important to restore their level of health.

If there is numbness and tingling a Low-Level Laser can assist in healing tissue in fingers and toes which is often a side effect of chemotherapy.

When To Start Breast Cancer Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can start before or after treatment for a patient. The sooner you are in the clinic before surgery to know what you should be doing to prepare,  the better. After surgery as soon as your drains are removed we will begin PT Care. The sooner we can help you get moving, redirect lymph flow, increase circulation for healing and reduce your pain, the less likely any long term effects will manifest themselves.  

Some of the things we like to benchmark before and after surgery are:

  • Any complaints of pain
  • Range of motion in your neck, shoulder and trunk
  • Posture
  • Strength
  • Joint mobility
  • How the surgery site is healing afterwards
  • If you’re able to reach overhead, behind your back or out to the side
  • Nerve slide/glide movements

This benchmarking allows us to set realistic goals for getting you back to the level of your desired health.

Need breast cancer physical therapy? We’ll help  you get a doctor’s referral. Use the form below or call (509) 891-2623

Physical Therapy For Lymphedema Caused By Breast Cancer

Lymphedema is a protein rich fluid that often accumulates when lymph nodes are removed or the lymph system is disrupted during or after breast cancer  surgery, in the subcutaneous tissues. Often after surgery our lymph system doesn’t know how to drain correctly due to nodes being removed or the lymphatic network being interrupted due to surgical sites.  

This causes a build up or back flow of fluid that is toxic in nature and when this fluid is static in the system in a particular area, it can cause infection. . Breast cancer care physical therapy helps train the body how to:


  • Drain the fluid from the involved area
  • Use graduated compression to decrease swelling in the arm, chest wall or armpit
  • Exercise programs to facilitate the muscle pump so fluid is unable to accumulate
  • Skin care to reduce the risk of infection
  • Compression garments for high risk activities
  • Prevention, risks and ways to mitigate the likelihood of long term issues from lymphedema

Sheree DiBiase, PT, ICLM On Physical Therapy For Breast Cancer

I often get asked how long it takes to heal. This depends on each person’s overall health. We feel that it is important to provide your body with an optimal healing environment, which means your physical, mental, spiritual  and emotional health must all integrate correctly for long term healing to occur correctly. Finding balance in these areas is key and you can reclaim your health if you are taking the time to pay attention to all these pieces.  To have a healthy life”Span” we must look at 4 key components for optimal healing.   

SPAN stands for Sleep, Plan, Activity and Nutrition.  These are the keys to healing.

Sleep – When you sleep, our cells are given time to repair. The more restful sleep you can get the greater benefit you’ll receive, 7-8 hours a night is necessary.

Plan – What and how will you incorporate time into your work and home life to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul is very important. It is no longer about only work for you. Your work will need to be meaningful and purposeful and you will need to add time into your day for relaxation and activity.

Activity -Daily exercise now becomes a must, with aerobic activity, stretching and strengthening. Learning diaphragmatic breathing is a must as it will decrease your sympathetic nervous system “Fright and Flight” mechanism.

Nutrition -As for food and drink, the less processed foods you consume the better.  I often suggest for my patients to get a juicer and begin daily juicing or taking juice plus vitamins. These are an added boost of nutrients to help your immune system and cellular repair, so optimal cellular regeneration can occur.

If you are wanting to get in touch with my staff and I, please don’t hesitate to call us.

Your road ahead is challenging I understand, but I believe you can do this and I know our team of

PT/ PTA’s, can help you as you move forward in reclaiming your health.

– Sheree Dibiase, PT, ICLM