Exercise Can Help Women After Breast Cancer Surgery Regain Arm Mobility

Study results show no differences in the rate of neuropathic pain, surgical site infection, wound-related complications, or other complications between the 2 groups.

Women who exercise after having non-reconstructive breast cancer surgery may experience less pain and regain better arm and shoulder mobility than those who receive standard care, the results of a study show.

Investigators from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom (UK) conducted a trial to evaluate whether a structured exercise program improved functional and health-related quality of life compared with the usual care for women after breast cancer surgery.

At 12 months, women in the exercise group reported better quality of life, fewer arm disability symptoms, and lower pain intensity than those in the usual care group.

However, there were no differences in the rate of neuropathic pain, surgical site infection, swelling, or other complications between the 2 groups.

Women were randomized into 2 equal groups where half the individuals received just the usual care and the other half received the usual care with structured exercises.

The exercise program, known as Prevention of Shoulder Problems, comprised behavioral changes, physical activity, and stretching. It was introduced 7 to 10 days after surgery, with 2 further appointments, 1 and 3 months later.

One year after surgery, the women completed detailed questionnaires to measure the outcomes, such as activity level, pain, quality of life, and swelling.

From 17 of the UK’s National Health Service cancer centers, 392 women, averaging aged 58 years, undergoing breast cancer surgery, and at risk of postoperative upper-limb problems were included in the study.

No serious adverse events were reported.

The findings were published in The BMJ.

Reference

Exercise helps women with arm and shoulder problems after breast cancer surgery. EurekAlert. News release. November 10, 2021. Accessed November 12, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934196