Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pole walking for patients with breast cancer-related arm lymphedema

Pole walking for patients with breast cancer-related arm lymphedema
Physiother Theory Pract. 2009 Apr

Jönsson C, Johansson K.
Lymphedema Unit, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Arm lymphedema is a well-known side effect of breast cancer treatment. Studies of the effect of physical exercise on arm lymphedema are very rare. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of pole walking on breast cancer-related arm lymphedema when using a compression sleeve. Twenty-six women with unilateral arm lymphedema took part in a clinical study of pole walking on one occasion, 4 kilometers for 1 hour. Measurements were made before, immediately after, and 24 hours later. Results revealed no changes in total arm volume of the swollen arm, measured with water displacement method, or in subjective assessments of heaviness and tightness in the affected arm using visual analogue scale. Immediately after pole walking, a temporary increase in total arm volume of the healthy arm (P=0.037) was found. Twenty-four hours later, no differences were found compared to the measurements before walking. The median for perceived exertion immediately after pole walking, measured with Borg scale, was 11 ("fairly light"). The results suggest that a controlled, short-duration pole-walking program can be performed by patients with arm lymphedema, using a compression sleeve, without deterioration of the arm lymphedema.