Blog #13: Lymphedema and Compression by Chris Schattinger, MS, CSCS, CISSN

We have established the very basic physiology of Lymphedema and now we will discuss how compression garments can assist in the treatment of this condition. It is important to note that there is no known cure for Lymphedema and therefore an inexpensive and effective treatment should be explored.

In a study by Damstra et al. (2009) women with breast cancer related arm lymphedema volunteered to participate in bandage compression therapy. The women were divided into two groups each having different levels of compression (20-30mmHg vs. 44-58mmHg). Each group wore the bandages for two hours and then for 24 hours.

The results found the group using the lower pressure significantly reduced swelling after two hours and after 24 hours. The higher-pressure group significantly reduced swelling but only after 24 hours. Therefore, a compression garment that creates either of these pressures could be used to help reduce Lymphedema. Compression garments would also require less time to apply and could allow for greater mobility thus allowing the user to exercise (another treatment method for lymphedema).

 References:

Damstra, RJ, & Partsch, H. (2009). Compression therapy in breast cancer-related lymphedema: A randomized, controlled comparative study of relation between volume and interface pressure Journal of vascular surgery. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0741521408022052