January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.1 If you haven’t scheduled your Pap Smear, go do it! In the United States more than 13,800 women (up from 13,000 in 2019) will be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer this year. When caught early, there is an over 90% survival rate.2 Did you schedule your Pap Smear? Seriously, we’ll be here after you call your Ob/GYN.
Physical Therapy Treatment for Cervical Cancer?
You might be asking, “Why does a physical therapist care about my cervix?” The answer is simple, women’s health physical therapy (aka pelvic floor physical therapy) may be just the thing you need to Love Your Life, and Thrive during recovery. No, your physical therapist is not going to treat your Cervical Cancer directly, but Cervical Cancer can lead to a variety of conditions that a pelvic floor physical therapist is prepared to treat including chronic pelvic pain, deconditioning, and bladder leaks.
When it comes to physical therapy, most people think about our knees, think about our backs, our necks, but most people don't give a lot of thought to the muscles of our pelvic floor. The Physical Therapists at FYZICAL Oklahoma City, do. We know that just like the muscles in the rest of our body, our pelvic floor muscles need to be properly exercised. Healthy muscles are strong and flexible. That means that weak pelvic floor muscles need to be strengthened, but tight muscles need to be properly stretched. Our women's health trained physical therapists are prepared to meet a woman's health concerns, and that means helping you achieve strong, flexible muscles and more.
What Symptoms of Cervical Cancer can a Pelvic Floor PT Treat?
As we mentioned above, our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists aren’t going to treat your cancer directly, but your oncologist probably isn’t going to be too worried about your incontinence. Additionally, even many Ob/GYNs see the benefit in the holistic remedy to chronic pelvic pain that Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can provide. We work with Ob/GYNs all the time here in Oklahoma City, if you're not sure we would be happy to reach out to yours.
Our Pelvic Floor PTs are prepared to address several cancer related challenges, including:
Chronic Pelvic Pain Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
All PTs address pain, but when it comes to the pelvic floor, the Pelvic Floor PTs at FYZICAL Oklahoma City are specifically trained to deal with painful intercourse, low back and hip pain, and pain with movement in your pelvic floor.
Chronic Pelvic Pain can come from a variety of sources, unfortunately cervical cancer and its direct treatment can be a contributor.3 Our physical therapists want to help you lead your best, pain-free, drug-free life. They will be able to assess the strength and pliability of your pelvic floor muscles to ensure they are as healthy as can be. As with any physical therapy, one component will be a home exercise program, in case of chronic pelvic pain that will likely mean teaching you proper trigger point release to relieve your pain when it is at its worst.
Proper breathing is also a key component of pelvic floor physical therapy. We find that when patients come to physical therapy with FYZICAL Oklahoma City, learning diaphragmatic breathing is a core component of our treatment and plan of care. Coordinating breathing with proper muscle contraction and relaxation is intimately important in the outcomes of our patients.
Bowel and Bladder Incontinence Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
Women’s Health PTs address leakage and incontinence, and pelvic floor muscle weakness. We have a saying around here, “Leaks are Not Normal!” Both Bladder and Bowel Incontinence are more common in survivors of cervical cancer.4
The good news is, our pelvic floor physical therapists are prepared with the skills and a sympathetic ear to get you the relief you deserve. If your body isn't working the way it was, or the way you want it to, our PTs may be able to help alleviate some of those challenges.
Genitourinary Complications Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
Sexual dysfunction after cervical cancer can be extremely challenging for both the survivor and her partner. After what is often an emotionally difficult time, challenges with sexual intimacy can strain the relationship.5
A pelvic floor physical therapist can help address many of the physical challenges associated with sexual dysfunction and may be able to provide support of a counselor for psychological support of both the survivor and her partner.
Physical Deconditioning Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
Cervical Cancer treatment leaves many survivors, but survivors end up weaker than they would like. Whether you want to run around Lake Hefner, golf one of Oklahoma City's beautiful courses, or just spend more quality time with family, the PTs here at FYZICAL Oklahoma City can get you back to doing the activities you love the most. A medically based fitness program, supervised by one of our physical therapists, can target the areas you are having the most difficulty with and provide functional exercises to get you back to living your life.
In general, there are three phases to physical therapy
- Pain Relief
- Improved Strength and Flexibility (Range of Motion)
- Optimized Functioning
Dealing with physical deconditioning means you are probably transitioning from Phase I to Phase II of physical therapy and that is a good thing. That means you are recovering and moving toward optimized functioning for yourself.
Cancer Related Fatigue (CRF) During and Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
CRF is a common concern for patients receiving medical cancer treatments. Exercise when fatigued might seem like the last thing you want to do. However, activity supervised by a physical therapist (like a medically based fitness program) can reduce your fatigue, improve quality of life, and help you live the way you want.6
Peripheral Neuropathy Following Cervical Cancer Treatment
Often associated with diabetes, Peripheral Neuropathy following cancer treatment can leave you with pain, numbness, or tingling in your feet. Our PTs can help you improve nerve function, or compensate for the dysfunction, either will have the effect of better movement and a more active life.
The biggest challenge that a physical therapist can help you overcome with Peripheral Neuropathy is balance and falls prevention. FYZICAL Oklahoma City has several specially trained balance rehabilitation physical therapists who are also pelvic floor physical PTs. If you are having pain or tingling in your feet, don’t wait until you fall.
FYZICAL Oklahoma City specializes in Women’s Health Physical Therapy. We understand the unique challenges you face during and after cancer treatment. And we want to help you Love Your Life. Call Today or just stop by to hear more about what PT can do for you.
-Dr. Lauren Peterson
FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of Oklahoma City provides pelvic floor physical therapy in Lakeside, The Village, Nichols Hills and surrounding NW Oklahoma City. Our pelvic floor physical therapists are specially trained to treat all types of pelvic floor dysfunction including symptoms related to cervical cancer. Our practitioners take a patient-centered individualized approach that focuses on your pelvic health needs. If you are unsure about your pelvic health, or you want to see the FYZICAL Difference for yourself, schedule a free consultation today.
3. Alappattu, M. J. (2013). Pain and psychological outcomes after rehabilitative treatment for a woman with chronic pelvic pain with stage III cervical cancer: A case study. Journal of Womens Health Physical Therapy, 37, 97-102.
6. Mustian, K. M. (2012). Exercise recommendations for cancer-related fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleep problems, depression, pain, anxiety, and physical dysfunction: A review. Oncology and Hematology Review, 8, 81-88.
Initially Published 1-11-2019