The role of physical therapy for treating pectus deformity in general and certain specific problems seen in pectus deformity is an important and often poorly recognized treatment option. However, alone there is less certain evidence of successfully treating the pectus deformity particularly more severe forms. Building up muscle may help 'cover' the deformity but exercises specially to build up the pectus muscles may actually make the pectus more pronounced especially in severe pectus excavatum. As an adjunct or add-on treatment, Physical therapy may be offered to patients as part of a bracing program for pectus carinatum or pigeon chest, or post-operatively following a NUSS procedure for correction of a patient's pectus excavatum. In addition, there are certain chest wall deformities such as significant rib flattening or flaring whether physical therapy may be a significant part of the treatment offered.
After an initial consultation we will assess the most appropriate treatment method for your pectus deformity and decide whether to recommend physical therapy as part of that treatment.
If physical therapy is offered, a personalized exercise regimen based on a thorough assessment and a physiotherapist trained and experienced in treating patients with chest wall and pectus problems will complete a physical evaluation for you. It typically involves a combination of static and dynamic stretching, passive and active exercises to help reverse the effects of 'pectus posture' such as weak muscle and loss of flexibility as well as tackling specific areas such as developing core abdominal musculature to counter rib flaring.
Manipulation or Mobilisation of the costal cartilages is a type of physical therapy and is a very specific part of the bracing program the pectus clinic offers in treating pectus carinatum. It is unique to our treatment and appears to significantly improve compliance (wearing the brace), shortens the period where the brace is worn all the time and may reduce the length the brace needs to be worn in total.
Young man 4 weeks after open pectus repair undergoing physical therapy
Examples of some of exercises developed by pectus services©
Examples shown are a few of the passive stretches developed as part of a 5-minute work out for patients following bracing and or Nuss surgery.
Arm Sliders (Standing)
Stand against wall with feet about 6 inches away from the wall and upper arms at shoulder level.
Then keeping back of hands and elbows against wall raise arms up as shown towards ceiling.
Go up as high as possible trying to straighten elbows.
T Stretch on Floor
Lay on floor as shown. Relax you upper body.
Use a rolled towel or 1/2 round foam roll. Alternate each session laying on roll. 1: Lengthwise (shown), 2: Across
Hold for 5 minutes.