Objectives: Postoperative shoulder joint dysfunction has been observed at a certain rate after breast cancer surgery with axillary lymph node dissection. The purposes of this study were to verify the feasibility and effects of home-based exercise using a DVD and clarify the target of intensive intervention with physiotherapy by identifying the factors that cause postoperative shoulder dysfunction. Methods: The study comprised 237 female patients who underwent breast cancer surgery with axillary lymph node dissection, whose data were acquired until 3 months postoperatively. All patients were instructed to exercise at home using a DVD. Range of motion (ROM) of shoulder flexion and abduction and the disability of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) score were measured before surgery, 1 week and 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery. As factors influencing the recovery of shoulder ROM at 3 months after surgery, the presence or absence of radiation and factors up to 1 month after surgery (age, body mass index, the relationship between operated side and dominant side of the hand, treatment modalities, and complications). Results: Shoulder ROM and DASH scores had gradually recovered from 1 week to 3 months postoperatively. As the results of the multivariate analysis, the factors that were associated with the recovery of ROM of shoulder flexion at 3 months were the side of surgery corresponding to the dominant hand (negative factor) and the presence of paresthesia at 1 week postoperatively (positive factor) (p < 0.05). Radiation therapy and the side of surgery corresponding to the dominant hand were negative factors for the recovery of shoulder abduction (p < 0.01). Regarding the feasibility of the home exercise, 214/229 (93.4%), 172/210 (81.9%), and 139/206 (67.5%) of patients performed exercise at least once a day at 1, 2, and 3 months after surgery, respectively. Conclusion: Our result indicated that the side of surgery corresponding to the dominant hand was the inhibiting factor for recovery for both shoulder flexion and abduction at 3 months after surgery. Home-based exercise with DVD was considered feasible. For the verification of this effectiveness, a randomized control study should be planned in the future.
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