Our advice to reduce the effects of heavy breast cancer treatments, chemo, radiotherapy, mastectomy …
The best way to prevent lymphedema, which is an edema of the arm caused by axillary dissection, is to use your arm as normally as possible, avoiding the carrying of heavy loads, shocks and sources of heat.
Conversely, the cold is good, and finishing your shower by insisting on the arm with cold water is a habit to take.
“In the event of extreme heat, placing a damp swaddle in the freezer on your arm will have a soothing vasoconstriction and drainage effect”, adds Jean-François Bourgeois, physiotherapist.
For activities that may cause bites, burns, injuries, or requiring the use of detergents, gloves are essential. The operated arm should also never be tightened by clothing or jewelry.
When the lymphedema is already there, lymphatic drainage is performed by a physiotherapist, and the wearing of an elastic sleeve recommended, with foam pads, at night, so as not to crush the lymphatic capillaries. At the same time, you can do a self-massage of the arm.
The principle :
- start in the armpit;
- the hand opposite to the operated arm is stretched out, the fingers squeezed;
- unroll it little by little, so as to place the little finger on the skin first, then the other fingers to finish hand flat;
- go down to the wrist and go up to the armpit.
“To be done once a day for half an hour”, says Jean-François Bourgeois.
Another simple gesture, when wearing a sleeve: squeeze a foam ball in your hand several times a day. Muscle contraction combined with the back pressure effect of the cuff activates lymphatic return.
Against the stiffness of the shoulder
Do not hesitate to use your arm to wash your back, neck, shoulders, and to dry yourself. Likewise, getting dressed, hanging up your bra, pulling up a zipper on the back, or putting on and taking off a T-shirt are just as effective, as are checks or tidying up the top of a wardrobe.
Exercises prevent stiffness in the shoulder. To do morning and evening (5 to 10 mobilizations each).
- As you breathe in, raise both arms horizontally in front of you, palms facing down. Then descend while breathing deeply.
- As you breathe in, raise both arms to your sides to shoulder height, palms facing up. Then lower them by blowing.
- Arms extended to the sides, make larger and larger circles, in one direction then in the other. Inhale while raising the arms, breathe while lowering them.
To reduce scars
We can massage the scar one month after the operation, once it is properly closed.
The principle : rotate your finger by pressing all along the scar once a day for 10 minutes, with or without cream, but always opt for alcohol-free cosmetics.
Fight against dryness of the mucous membranes
Versus dry mouth, sprays with a spring water sprayer (Évian, La Roche Posay, Uriage) and bicarbonate water mouthwashes can provide relief (1 teaspoon for a glass of water).
In front of the vaginal dryness, it is recommended to use only mild cleansing gels or dermatological bars with acidic pH (Uriage, Rogé Cavailles) and to hydrate morning and evening with an emollient cream such as balm, petroleum jelly or cold-cream (Avène, Bioderma).
The best treatment for fatigue
Alternate physical activity and rest allows the body to recharge its batteries. First recommended sport: swimming, because it relaxes and mobilizes the operated arm.
If you lack the energy to practice a sport, it remains walking, a good way to get some fresh air.
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