Oncology surgeons generally clear their lumpectomy patients for normal activity about 4 to 6 weeks after their surgery. However, each patient is different, and some may require additional time for healing and full recovery before going in for chiropractic treatment. You should always consult with your healthcare providers before engaging in additional medical therapy while you are undergoing treatments for cancer.
Chiropractic treatment is recognized as an effective method of dealing with pain, muscle dysfunction and stiffness after breast surgery. In addition, chiropractic also has a beneficial effect on well being and dealing with the stress of cancer treatment. Patients should discuss the pros and cons of chiropractic care with their surgeons, and they should keep their chiropractors informed of any changes in cancer treatment, medication or specific recommendations from their surgeons.
When is it Safe to Receive a Chiropractic Adjustment After Lumpectomy?
The main concern with having a chiropractic adjustment after lumpectomy is in disturbing newly healed tissue around the incision. Healing time will depend on how extensive the surgery was, the degree of care used in healing the wound, as well as factors that influence the individual’s own rate of healing. In most cases, physicians will advise at least 6 weeks of recovery before engaging in exercise or other types of physical therapy. Because chiropractic techniques involve active manipulation of the skin and muscles, your physician should clear you before undergoing treatment.
What to Consider Before Making an Appointment
Consulting With Your Medical Provider
The first step in deciding when to have chiropractic treatment after lumpectomy is to consult with your oncologist. The doctor will provide pertinent information on your current state of health and whether you are ready to undergo chiropractic treatment that vigorously manipulates body tissues. If there are any contraindications to chiropractic care, the surgeon will provide a reasonable timetable of when treatment will be safe.
Get clearance from your surgeon before starting adjustments
Generally, surgeons will provide a schedule for resuming normal activities. If you have any physical issues that require chiropractic treatment, your surgeon will determine when you can begin receiving care. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice on resuming activities, as they will have a good understanding of your entire health condition and whether you are able to withstand additional kinds of treatment while you are under care for cancer.
Ensure incisions have fully healed before applying pressure
Surgical incisions should be completely healed with no scabbing or discharge. Careful attention to wound care and healing will allow the incision to fully heal before you begin another type of therapy. Proper care of the wound site and consultation with your surgeon will ensure chiropractic treatment does not cause incisions to re-open or cause damage to newly healed tissues.
Inform chiropractor of all cancer treatments and medications
Information about your current treatments for cancer and cancer medications can help your chiropractor to provide the best care. You may need to refrain from chiropractic care for a time while you are in active treatment for cancer. Healing after surgery can also take a period of time. In addition, the medications you are prescribed may have a bearing on how your body reacts to chiropractic techniques. Individuals who take medications such as blood thinners or bone-building drugs may be advised not to get chiropractic treatment. Good communication between you, your chiropractor and your oncologist will ensure you receive the best care for your needs.
What is a Lumpectomy?
A lumpectomy is a procedure to treat breast cancer that removes the cancerous tumor and a small margin of normal tissue around it. Lumpectomy is known as “breast conserving procedure” because it preserves as much breast tissue as possible to keep the breast looking as it originally did. Lumpectomy is usually combined with radiation therapy or other types of treatment to ensure that all of cancerous cells are removed. If breast reconstruction surgery is needed, it can be done at the same time as the lumpectomy or at a later date. According to the Susan G. Komen site, lumpectomy plus radiation can be as effective as mastectomy to treat breast cancer. However, many factors will influence your surgeon’s recommendation for treatment of your cancer.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care After Lumpectomy
Having surgery on your breast can cause you to position your body to be protective of the incision. Hunching over for a period of time mean changes in your posture that can lead to discomfort in the back, neck, shoulders and arms. The enforced rest needed to recover from cancer surgery can also contribute to body discomfort. Chemotherapy drugs can cause severe muscle and joint pain that can be debilitating. Chiropractic care can help to realign spinal structures, restoring normal posture for greater comfort and relief of pressure on vertebrae, resulting in greater comfort for the patient.
Reduced Pain and Discomfort
Studies indicate chiropractic treatment can be helpful in reducing cancer pain that occurs as a result of tumor growth putting pressure on tissues. Chiropractic techniques can also reduce muscle tightness and pressure on nerves that can lead to pain. Manual adjustment gently separates the vertebrae of the spine, allowing increased blood flow to the disks and nerves. Soft tissue techniques help to relieve the knots and trigger point discomfort that cause muscle soreness and stiffness related to the inactivity during recovery from surgery.
Improved Mobility and Range of Motion
The period after breast surgery requires rest and avoidance of rigorous exercise. This enforced inactivity can leave an individual with stiffness, backache and shoulder pain that can be relieved by manual adjustment, massage and other chiropractic methods. Treatment helps to loosen muscles, relieve nerve compression and improve flexibility, as the patient returns to their normal activity levels.
Improved Quality of Life
Dealing with the stress of a cancer diagnosis also has psychological effects on the individual. They often experience anxiety, depression, muscle tension and poor sleep quality, not only as a result of treatment itself, but also because of concern about the progress of their condition and fears about what the future will bring. Chiropractic care can reduce stress and physical discomfort, which can improve well-being and quality of life for patients. Relief from pain is the main benefit from chiropractic adjustment, which can help to improve mood and frame of mind. However, other benefits from improved blood circulation, better mobility and improved relaxation also help to improve quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long after surgery can you go to the chiropractor?
You should wait a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks before seeing a chiropractor for treatment after your cancer surgery. Depending on your own individual health needs, your physician may have you wait a longer period of time before getting chiropractic care. Any rigorous movement in the arm, shoulder or breast area can reopen the incision, which could lead to infection and a longer, more complicated recovery period.
Should cancer patients go to the chiropractor?
According to the BreastCancer.org web site, evidence suggests that chiropractic treatment can help breast cancer patients with a number of issues that occur as a result of cancer itself, as well as cancer treatment. Chiropractic care can help back pain and headaches, and can also help to relieve depression and anxiety that often affects cancer patients. In addition, the enforced rest that is often required because of fatigue from cancer treatment can have a detrimental effect on the musculoskeletal system. Discomfort, stiffness and poor mobility can often occur, and chiropractic care can help to resolve these physical issues.
Can chiropractic adjustments affect lymph nodes?
Lymph nodes are scattered throughout the human body and help to balance fluids and fight infection. Part of your cancer treatment may involve removal of affected lymph nodes, which can result in lymph fluid retention in the body, a condition called lymphedema. Chiropractors can provide lymphatic massage to help lymph fluids move more efficiently through the body, so problems of swelling and discomfort can be minimized. This therapy can be very helpful in keeping cancer patients comfortable and preventing infections.
Can I see a chiropractor with breast cancer?
Yes, you can see a chiropractor if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, you should consult with your oncologist about when you can safely undergo chiropractic treatment after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation for your cancer. Chiropractic treatment can provide significant relief from physical discomfort and can be a helpful alternate therapy for patient care.
Can a chiropractor tell if you have a tumor?
Chiropractors are trained in human anatomy in regard to spinal function and locomotion. They do not receive training in diagnosing or treating tumors in the body. However, their detailed knowledge allows them to notice anything unusual in the body, and they may call your attention to any growth or abnormality they find during your treatment.
Do chiropractors find tumors?
A chiropractor may detect a number of lumps or bumps in the body related to scar tissue from past musculoskeletal injuries, and they use different types of techniques to break up this tissue. If the chiropractor finds an unusual lump of some kind, they will refer you to a primary care physician or specialist for further investigation.
What positions should you avoid after shoulder surgery?
Your surgeon will provide specific instructions on what you should do to care for your incision and what movements you should avoid. In general, you should not put weight on the affected shoulder or arm or sleep on the side of the incision for at least 6 weeks. Avoid using the affected arm and shoulder to support you when you get up from a chair or other seating. Propping yourself up with pillows will help you find a comfortable position for sleep. Avoid reaching behind you or above your head. Try to keep the arm on the affected side close to your body at all times.
Do chiropractors do lymphatic drainage?
The lymphatic system carries fluid throughout the human body and helps to fight infection. The growth of cancerous tumors can block the lymph nodes. Sometimes, surgery on the lymph nodes and the treatment of cancer can also cause lymphedema, a condition that causes swelling, discomfort and problems fighting infection. A special type of massage can help to reduce the symptoms of lymphedema. Many chiropractors are trained in lymphatic drainage massage that can help to relieve the symptoms of lymphatic fluid buildup that often occurs because of cancer surgery and treatment.
Does chiropractic adjustments reduce inflammation?
A study cited by the National Library of Medicine found that even a short-term course of chiropractic care was able to normalize inflammatory response in the body. This action is due to the ability of chiropractic techniques to improve nerve function and the immune system, which reduces stress response and lowers biochemicals associated with inflammation in the body. Because inflammation is associated with many different disease conditions, lowering the inflammatory response can help to improve overall health.