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Upper limb impairments are commonly reported following surgery for breast cancer, particularly surgery that involves the axilla. Common impairments include shoulder stiffness and reduced range of movement, upper limb discomfort and pain, and for some, swelling. These impairments can have an impact on the quality of life. McNeely and colleagues have undertaken a rigorous systematic review to determine the benefits of exercise in addressing shoulder mobility, pain and prevention of lymphoedema without causing seromas or increased wound drainage. Following a protracted search, the authors identified 24 studies that met their inclusion criteria, of which 10 were of sound methodological quality. Exercise-based interventions were conducted around the time of surgery as well as during and following the medical treatments.
Encouragingly, the review concluded that exercise is beneficial with no serious harm. Postoperative stretches appear to lead to better range of motion at the glenohumeral …