Johansson K, Albertsson M, Ingvar C, Ekdahl C.
Effects of compression bandaging with or without manual lymph drainage treatment in
patients with postoperative arm lymphedema.
Lymphology 1999 Sep;32(3):103-10

Department of Physical Therapy, Lund University Hospital, Sweden.

We examined the effects of low stretch compression bandaging (CB) alone or in
combination with manual lymph drainage (MLD) in 38 female patients with arm
lymphedema after treatment for breast cancer. After CB therapy for 2 weeks (Part
I), the patients were allocated to either CB or CB + MLD for 1 week (Part II).
Arm volume and subjective assessments of pain, heaviness and tension were
measured. The mean lymphedema volume reduction for the total group during Part I
was 188 ml (p < 0.001), a mean reduction of 26% (p < 0.001). During Part II the
volume reduction in the CB + MLD group was 47 ml (p < 0.001) and in CB group 20
ml. These differences were not significant (p = 0.07). A percentage reduction of
11% (p < 0.001) in the CB + MLD group and 4% in the CB group was significantly
different (p = 0.04). In both the CB and the CB + MLD group, a decrease of
feeling of heaviness (p < 0.006 and p < 0.001, respectively) and tension (p <
0.001 for both) in the arm was found, but only the CB + MLD group showed
decreased pain (p < 0.03). Low stretch compression bandaging is an effective
treatment giving volume reduction of slight or moderate arm lymphedema in women
treated for breast cancer. Manual lymph drainage adds a positive effect.