In a nutshell
This article investigated the safety and effectiveness of myofascial release (MR) therapy on women survivors of breast cancer. The authors concluded that MR therapy is safe and resulted in physical benefits (overall shoulder movement, functionality, pain).
Surgery and radiation are among the main treatments for breast cancer. The side effects can include lymphedema (fluid retention causing pain in the arm or neck region) and scarring (thickening of connective tissue causing pain and postural deformity). These side effects are currently treated with manual lymphatic drainage (massage to encourage drainage of the fluid), compressive bandages, and physical exercise.
Myofascial release (MR) is an alternative treatment to minimize these side effects. It is a type of medical massage that is not painful. Focus is placed on gently releasing tension along thickenings of fascia (connective tissue) and scar tissue. Releasing this tension restores posture and alignment. It also relieves knots and painful areas in parts of the body. It is not known if MR can help with the side effects of breast cancer treatments compared to conventional manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).
Methods & findings
This study involved 24 patients with breast cancer. They were randomly assigned to receive MR or a placebo manual lymphatic drainage treatment (MLD). They were given these treatments over 4 weeks. Questionnaires were used to measure pain, functionality (ability to carry out daily activities), quality of life (QoL), and depression.
The patients in the MR group experienced a significant decrease in pain intensity compared with the MLD group. Both groups had improved functionality after the treatment, but only the MR group had sustained the improved functionality after 1 month. There was no difference in QoL between the groups. The MLD group had an increased effect on emotional well-being as compared to the MR group.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that MR therapy is safe and resulted in physical benefits (overall shoulder movement, functionality, pain).
The fine print
This study was based on patient questionnaires, which is not the best level of evidence. Also, the study period was rather short and results were based on only 24 patients. Further studies are needed.
If you have concerns about joint pain related to breast cancer treatment, discuss this with your doctor.
Published By :
Supportive care in cancer: official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Nov 24, 2018
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