Effect of complex decongestive therapy on upper extremity lymphedema

KARADİBAK D., Yildirim Y., KARA B., Saydam S.

Fizyoterapi Rehabilitasyon, vol.20, no.1, pp.3-8, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Journal Name: Fizyoterapi Rehabilitasyon
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.3-8
  • Keywords: Complex decongestive therapy, Lymph drainage, Lymphedema; upper extremity
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of complex decongestive physiotherapy (CDP) in patients with upper extremity lymphedema. Materials and methods: One hundred-two women with lymphedema after having breast surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy were included in this study. The subjects were divided into three groups as mild lymphedema (N=31), moderate lymphedema (N=34), and severe lymphedema (N=37). They were treated with CDP applications of daily manual lymph drainage, compression bandage, remedial exercises and skin care, for five days per week, four weeks. They also received a prophylactic physiotherapy and education for self-management techniques. Lymphedema was assessed through circumference and volumetric measurements before and after the treatment. Results: Volume of lymphedema was found to be decreased significantly in each group after CDP (p<0.05). A statistically significant difference was found when volume changes among the groups were compared before and after the treatment (p<0.05). The mean reduction in the volume of edematous arm was 87% in the women with mild lymphedema, 56% with moderate lymphedema, and 30% with severe lymphedema. Conclusion: The CDP, combined with self management, is efficacious in treating patients with upper extremity lymphedema, and it was detected that the earlier the subjects receive physiotherapy, the faster they recover.