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Low-Intensity Resistance Training and Compression Garment in the Management of Breast Cancer–Related Lymphedema: Single-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

Journal of Cancer Education
Mohammed T. A. Omar, Rehab F. M. Gwada, Ghada S. M. Omar, Rokia M. EL-Sabagh, Abd-EL Aziz E. Mersal
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There is limited evidence regarding the combined effect of exercise and compression garment on breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL). Therefore, we investigate the effect of low-intensity resistance training alone or in combination with a compression garment on lymphedema volume, self-reported lymphedema symptoms, and shoulder mobility and function. A total of 60 women with unilateral BCRL were randomly assigned to low-intensity resistance exercises (Rex group, n = 30) or exercises and compression garment (Rex-Com-group, n = 30). Both groups take part in exercises program consisted of 10–12 repetitions at 50 to 60% of one repetition maximum (IRM), three times weekly, for 8 weeks. The primary outcome was lymphedema volume determined by percentage reduction of excess limb volume (ELV). Secondary outcomes were lymphedema symptoms (pain, heaviness, and tightness) and shoulder mobility and function using the disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand (DASH) questionnaire. All measurements were standardized and performed before (week 0, W0), after the intervention (week 8, W8), and at follow-up (week 12, W12). A significant reduction in percentage of ELV (p < 0.01), pain severity (p < 0.05), a sensation of heaviness (p < 0.05) and tightness (p < 0.001), and improvement in shoulder range of motion (p < 0.05) and function on DASH scores (p < 0.05) were observed at W8 and W12 in both groups. However, no between-group differences were observed over time. These findings suggest that low-intensity resistance training, irrespective of garment use, can effectively reduce limb volume and lymphedema symptoms, and increase shoulder mobility and function.

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