[What physiotherapeutic method for the treatment of post-mastectomy lymphedema is the most effective?]
Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult. 2017;94(4):59-66
Authors: Grushina TI
We have undertaken the search for the publications of interest in the following databases: Scopus, Web of Science, MedLine, The Cochrane Library, CyberLeninka, and Russian science citation index. In addition, we evaluated the effectiveness of the physical agents and procedures having different mechanisms of action of the known factors responsible for the development of post-mastectomy lymphedema. Such agents and procedures include self-massage, manual lymphatic drainage, therapeutic physical exercises, compression bandaging, wearing elastic compression garments, Kinesio Tex taping, pneumatic compression, ultrasonic, electrostatic, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, microcurrent and low-intensity laser therapy. These methods and products were used by the authors of selected publications either separately or in the combined modes taking into consideration the significant differences between effects of the application of individual techniques. The results of the treatment are presented for different time periods, either in absolute units (cm or ml) in the majority of the cases or in relative units (%) only in part of them without information concerning the statistical significance of the results obtained. There is thus far neither the universal classification of post-mastectomy lymphedema nor the generally accepted approaches to its diagnostics and treatment. Therefore, it is impossible to give an unambiguous answer as regards the effectiveness of one or another method for the diagnostics and treatment of this condition. The author of the present article observed 172 patients at the age of 56.8±9.7 years suffering from late grade I-IV lymphedema treated with the use of local low-intensity low-frequency electric and magnetic therapy in the combination with pneumatic compression applied during 15 days. The results of the treatment were evaluated using water and impedance plethysmography. Within 4 weeks after the onset of therapy, the volume of the upper limb decreased on the average for all stages of lymphedema by 37.7±9.3% under effect of pneumatic compression alone, by 49.5±10.7% under the influence of its combination with electrotherapy, by 59.9±5.4% under the action of the combination of pneumatic compression with magnetotherapy, and by 76.3±7.3% after the application of all the three techniques together (p<0.05). Electrical neurostimulation of the blood vessels and skeletal muscles proved especially effective for the treatment of I-II grade lymphedema while magnetic therapy was most efficient for the management of grade III-IV lymphedema. The proposed method of combined physiotherapy looks very encouraging for the treatment of late lymphedema but does not completely solve all problems pertaining to the management of this pathological condition.
PMID: 29119963 [PubMed - in process]