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Weight-bearing exercise and its impact on arm lymphoedema

Karin Johansson, Neil Piller
11 February 2014

<p>Background: There is conflicting information about whether weight-bearing exercises can make lymphoedema worse. Aims: To evaluate the influence of a programme of weight-bearing exercises on the severity of arm lymphoedema. Methods: Eighteen women with breast cancer-related arm lymphoedema took part in a stepped weight-bearing exercise programme. After each session, perceived exertion was rated on a Borg scale. The arm volume (TAV) was measured by water displacement (and multifrequency bioimpedance analysis [MFBIA]), and the patients’ experiences of tightness and heaviness were measured on a 10-point scale. All measurements were made before and after training and 30 minutes and 24 hours after the end of the sessions. Results: A statistically significant increase of lymphoedema absolute volume (LAV) was measured immediately after exercise. There was also a tendency towards an increase in TAV and lymphoedema relative volume (LRV). MFBIA showed a tendency towards increase in LRV 30 minutes after training. The TAV, LAV and LRV returned to pre-training values after 24 hours and TAV showed a tendency to reduce, supported by the subjective assessments. Conclusions: A controlled shortduration arm exercise programme with increasing weights does not increase lymphoedema arm volume. Declaration of interest: This study was supported by research grants from the Swedish Cancer Foundation.</p>

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