After cancer treatment, scarring can be a major cause of ongoing concern.
Post-surgical and radiation therapy scars can cause considerable pain, discomfort, disfigurement and adversely impact function of local tissue and sometimes joints close to the injury. These scars can also affect normal lymph drainage, leading to chronic oedema (swelling) in pockets or involving the whole limb. It is best to address and treat these scars as soon as possible, even as wounds are healing to limit the potential negative affects of newly formed scars.
Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS)
Sometimes also known as "Cording Syndrome" is experienced by many women following axillary lymph node dissection in combination with breast cancer surgery. This is a condition characterised by pain, limited range of shoulder motion and a palpable cord of tissue from the axilla (armpit) into the arm of the affected side. This can develop from 2 weeks to several months, even years after surgery. It sometimes extends down as far as the hand and along the side of the chest underneath the arm. If AWS develops it is best to address it immediately as it often worsens over time, causing considerable impairment to the function of the arm and the surrounding soft tissues. Oedema Clinics physiotherapists use the PhysioTouch as an important and effective therapy in the treatment of AWS. Call 1300 643 336 to book in an AWS assessment or treatment.
Hypertrophic Scars are characterised by deposits of excessive amounts of collagen as the scar heals and have a raised and discoloured appearance and are often tender, itchy, and even painful, and depending on their location can even impact mobility.
Keloid Scars are more rare and extend beyond boundary of the original injury, involving the surrounding skin. They are often referred to as looking and growing like a tumour. Keloid scars can also be tender, itchy, and often more painful than other scars.
Our Oedema Clinic physiotherapists use a combination of therapies to address each individual's needs caring for their scar post surgery and radiation oncology, tailoring treatments to include PhysioTouch therapy, silicon gels, kinesiotaping, compression therapy, oedema management and massage.
Silicon gel sheets, massage and taping are all found to be effective in softening and flattening raised scars and can be used in combination with PhysioTouch negative pressure therapy and if necessary compression garments.
Oedema Clinics take a unique approach to scar treatment with the PhysioTouch device that provides local negative pressure to areas of scar tissue, activating the body's lymphatic and circulatory systems to improve outcomes. PhysioTouch treatment can be used around wounds as they are healing as well as over newly healed skin. Treatment is gentle and pain free and is tolerated far better than standard scar massage as the device gently lifts the skin in a vertical direction (upwards) which is remarkably beneficial to the tissues and impossible to achieve with other means of mobilisation. Typical scar massage involves pressing into the tissues often creating discomfort and pain. Oedema reduction in the tissues surrounding the wound or scar will reduce tenderness, pain, fibrosis and healing time.
Scar treatments with the PhysioTouch lead to improved outcomes in all scar presentations from simple surgical scars to cording, adhesions and contractures.