Hopefully you don’t know anyone who has been affected by breast cancer but there is a good chance you do. Breast cancer in the most common cancer in women in Australia – there were 20, 428 new cases in 2022 (Cancer Australia, 2023). Treatment advances in recent years have increased 5-year survival rates to 92% (up from 77% in 1989), which is marvellous by anyone’s standards.
Side effects of treatment
While survival statistics are impressive, some of the longer lasting side effects of breast cancer treatment – anxiety, depression, breast pain, breast numbness, shoulder restrictions on the affected side, cording, armpit tightness on the affected side, lymphoedema, chest tightness, neck and back pain, headaches, nausea and frustration – still remain.
Practitioners trained in lymphoedema management provide excellent assessment and treatment for lymphoedema (local swelling in body parts caused by a blockage in lymphatic drainage and accumulation of lymphatic fluid). Your local osteopath will also treat your headaches, neck and back pain with hands on techniques. However, up until recently, hands on manual therapy for scarring in breast tissue has not routinely been offered.
How we can help
Hands on manual therapy to breast tissue is exactly what we provide. Surgery and radiotherapy scars and sticks tissues together, a bit like those Space Bags you put your extra clothes and linen in and vacuum all the air out of. The location of the scar (whether it’s close to the surface or deeper in) determines which osteopathic technique works best to open the metaphorical Space Bag and let some ‘air’ back into the area. Treatment is mostly hands on, although cupping is an effective adjunct for superficial scars that are more persistent. Our goal is to soften the scar and realign the collagen fibres so that the breast tissue is soft, elastic and slides nicely with the skin above and breast tissue on either side. This means less breast pain/numbness and armpit tightness/drag and greater quality of life.
Currently the After Breast Cancer treatment is offered at the St Kilda Sports and Spinal Clinic by Nicole on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.