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Placebo controlled trial of mild electrical stimulation

Amanda Moseley, Beverley Heidenreich, Jan Douglass, Neil Piller
14 February 2014

<p>Background: To find ways to improve lymph flow especially when it is hot and or dry/humid when lymph loads are higher than normal. Aims: To determine if mild electrical stimulation of the epifascial compartment of lymphoedema limbs can improve lymphatic drainage when used in conjunction with garments. Methods: Patients were entered into a self-maintenance group and then allocated to an active or placebo group. The active group received 13 treatments of mild external electrical stimulation, while the placebo group had no detectable electrical stimulation. Results: The self-maintenance group showed increases in leg and truncal fluids (300mls), while both the active and (surprisingly) the passive treatment group showed statistically significant reductions in leg fluids of 200mls (<0.001) and 50mls (<0.001) respectively, compared to the self-maintenance group over the four weeks. Total limb volumes showed similar trends. Pain, heaviness, tightness and perceived leg size statistically significantly improved over the four-week active and placebo treatment periods. Conclusions: Mild external electrical stimulation of lymphatics has a positive effect on lymphoedema compared to current best practice self-management. Declaration of interest: This study was supported by Bodyflow International through Flinders Partners.</p>

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