Stiffness in Area of Radiation Treatment

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Last Modified: December 13, 2011

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Question

I feel stiffness in the area where I had radiation. What can I do about this?

Answer

Gary Freedman, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn , responds:

Stiffness in the area of radiation is relatively common, depending on the site treated, the technique and equipment used, and the dose used. Most women with breast irradiation can have temporary pains or stiffness of the chest and ribs. Treeatment can be ibuprofen or tylenol. Patients can do stretching and range of motion arm exercises to stretch the underlying pectoralis muscles that can be tight. For more severe cases affecting quality of life, a patient can be referred to a physical therapist for a more formal course of therapy.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat. Series, View the Life After Breast Cancer transcript.


News
ASTRO: Short Course of Breast Cancer Irradiation Effective

Aug 21, 2014 - A three week course of radiation treatment may be as effective as six weeks or more in patients with early-stage breast cancer, according to research presented at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, held from Nov. 1 to 5 in Chicago. In a related study presented at the meeting, adding radiation to the internal mammary lymph nodes does not improve survival in patients with early-stage breast cancer.



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