I have back troubles that have never been addressed. I was diagnosed with cancer last year, and had uterine and cervix surgery a year ago. I’m currently having chemo and radiation treatment. I sit in this chair all the time I need help to get strong again. I can’t get my doctor to OK rehab until I do two more rounds of chemo. What do you think?


Without performing an evaluation, we are limited in the details of our response. The side effects of chemotherapy can involve the musculoskeletal system. When an individual receiving chemotherapy participates in physical therapy, the physical therapist must pay close attention to numerous blood values, including white blood and platelet count(clotting) and hematocrit and hemoglobin levels. Impaired cell blood count(CBC) can result in increased bruising and decreased clotting response. Side effects of chemotherapy also include fatigue, weakness, pain, and increased risk of infection.

Also, cancers of the pelvic region can refer, or cause the sensation of pain in the low back. Although it is dependent upon the intensity and duration of activity, exercise can also decrease an individual’s immune response. It is important to avoid strenuous exercise after chemotherapy treatment as it can impair the effectiveness of the drug. Studies show that physical performance improves with exercise of low to moderate intensity while reducing stress and fatigue in those receiving chemotherapy treatment. In many instances, appropriate exercise is safe, but physical therapy would likely need to be approved by the physician overseeing care.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy is an excellent source for care of low back pain. Many patients complaining of back pain while sitting respond well to changing positions, or standing every hour. Also, placing a pillow vertically on the back support can offer relief during prolonged sitting. Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming may help relieve stress and fatigue and improve sleep and participating in low intensity yoga, relaxation, and massage therapies may also provide relief. Once your physician releases you to try physical therapy, the therapist will assess your response to exercise and determine if physical therapy is appropriate. An orthopedic physical therapist would be a great resource to treat low back pain and improve overall function. Here is a link to find a PT near you.

Adam J Schiltz PT, DPT, CSCS
Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – East Salem

Kathleen Burns PT, DPT
Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy @ OMG Southtowne

Natalie San Andres PT, DPT
Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy @ OMG Orthopedic & Sports Medicine

**This reply is for informational purposes only. We do not intend this as substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.**