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How can physiotherapy help cancer patients?

Physiotherapists are experts in finding the best ways for cancer patients to be active. This may involve exercise programs or advice on everyday activities, such as climbing stairs or getting dressed.

With some cancers, research has shown that exercise can reduce the risk of it coming back and increase your chances of surviving. Specialist physios can also help with problems and possible treatment of side effects such as tiredness, osteoporosis, and lymphoedema.

Physios also support cancer patients with managing pain. This is important, as pain can make you feel afraid to move or walk. Managing pain can also improve your quality of life. For cancer patients of working age, physiotherapy can help them gain enough strength and mobility to return to work.

Physios work in the NHS, privately, for charities, and in the workplace through occupational health schemes. They are the third-largest health profession after doctors and nurses.

You might not associate physiotherapy with cancer treatment. But physiotherapy is about repairing damage, improving mobility, reducing pain and stiffness, and improving quality of life.

It is an important factor in recovering from cancer as it works to strengthen and heal the body. Many people with cancer experience physical difficulties, such as problems with strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination.

Physiotherapy is the use of manual therapies and evidence-based care to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a variety of health conditions and movement disorders. The techniques used can assist recovery by helping to rebuild weakened tissue.

Our physiotherapists work with people following surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. They can help minimize long and short-term side effects and also prevent unnecessary disability. They also promote healthy behaviors such as physical activity and weight control.

To encourage our patients to get mobile after surgery, we ask them to bring comfortable clothes instead of pajamas and get out of bed as soon as they can and move around.

These are just some of the issues that physiotherapy can help with:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Lymphoedema
  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Falls prevention
  • Pelvic floor muscle function
  • Incontinence
  • Sexual function

Physiotherapists play an important educational role during and after cancer treatments and in helping promote a proactive approach for patients.

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Thomas Bloem
Thomas Bloem

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