Physical Therapy Post-Cancer Treatment

Physical Therapy Post-Cancer Treatment

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Cancer and the treatments patients receive can cause many physical problems. Did you know physical therapists can help people manage post-cancer health issues, improve health and function, and help with return to work and other activities?

Some side effects from Cancer treatments include:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in feet and hands
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of endurance
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of balance
  • Brain fog

How physical therapy can help:

Physical therapists are trained and educated to understand all of your health conditions, including a cancer diagnosis. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a specialized treatment program to address your specific needs and goals. The American Cancer Society recommends people undergoing cancer treatment, and cancer survivors, perform consistent physical exercise to decrease fatigue and improve the ability to perform normal daily activities. Studies show that exercise can improve an individual’s chances of surviving cancer. Your physical therapist may work with you to improve your:

  • Aerobic capacity. Research shows that aerobic exercise, such as walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week, may help improve your endurance and reduce fatigue. Your physical therapist, after evaluation and assessment, helps determine the best aerobic activities for you.
  • Mood. Exercise helps improve mood and reduce depression for everyone. Having a diagnosis of cancer, and cancer treatment, can be stressful and cause mood changes. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Daily activities. As with any condition including cancer, your physical therapist will discuss your activity goals with you to design your treatment program. Post cancer patients usually increase their physical activity gradually; your therapist will design a treatment program will help you reach your goals.
  • Sports training ability. Athletes undergoing cancer treatment can continue to train for their sport to a degree, depending on the type of cancer and treatment. Physical therapists design safe, challenging, sport-specific training programs to help athletes reduce the loss of fitness and strength during cancer treatment.
  • Motion. Your physical therapist will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in any stiff joints. These might begin with “passive” motions that the physical therapist performs for you, and progress to more active exercises and stretches that you do yourself.
  • Flexibility. Your physical therapist will determine if any muscles are tight, start helping you to stretch them.
  • Strength. With inactivity and cancer treatment comes a loss of strength. Your physical therapist can teach you the correct exercises to steadily restore your strength and agility.
  • Coordination/Balance. Your physical therapist will assess your balance and coordination and choose specific exercises to improve theses areas to improve your ability to perform household, community and sports activities as well as prevent falls. Many of these exercises can be performed at home.

You can reduce some of these side effects by:

  1. Staying active every day.
  2. Avoiding too much time on the couch or in bed.
  3. Participating in activities and exercises that you like to do as often as possible.


All physical therapists are prepared through education and experience to treat cancer-related movement problems. However, some therapists are specifically trained to treat patients with cancer before and after surgery and during cancer treatment.  Some physical therapists have a practice with oncology, lymphedema, or pain management focus.  You can visit and click on “Find a PT” for more information.

**Above information provided by Move Forward APTA and The American Cancer Society

**More information on preventing cancer can be found at the American Cancer Society’s website.

Do you have additional questions for Jodi or just want to stop in our clinic to learn more about our services? Our High Pointe Clinic is located at 8650 Hudson Boulevard, Suite 300 Lake Elmo, MN 55042. Feel free to call our clinic: (651) 275-4706.


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Physical Therapy Post-Cancer Treatment


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Jodi Wolowicz

Jodi Wolowicz

I am a staff Physical Therapist Assistant at OSI Physical Therapy – High Pointe Clinic. I have over 20 years of experience as a PTA and have worked most of those with OSI Physical Therapy. I graduated in 1993 from St. Catherine University. I have been blessed with amazing patients and co-workers who teach me and help me to grow daily. I can honestly say that I still love what I do and where I work!! I have a son and a step son. My husband and I enjoy Friday night date nights at the gym, walking our Lab, fishing and hiking. I also enjoy Yoga, the occasional 5k run, reading and cooking.

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