Modern treatment of lymphoedema. I. Complex physical therapy: the first 200 Australian limbs

Australas J Dermatol. 1992;33(2):61-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-0960.1992.tb00081.x.


Complex Physical Therapy (CPT) is discussed and its principles outlined. CPT involves: 1. skin care, 2. a special lymphatic massage, 3. compression bandaging and (later) garments, 4. special exercises which supplement the massage. CPT was used on 78 patients with postmastectomy lymphoedema (17 with Grade 1 and 61 with Grade 2). There were significant differences between the Grades. In the first four-week course the mean Grade 1 was reduced from 121% of normal to 107% (the mean change in the oedema was 103% of its initial value), and Grade 2 from 153% to 123% (with a mean change in oedema of 60%). All these were very highly significant. Over the next year there was a small, but very significant, decrease in the percentage of oedema. A further four-week course resulted in significant, and similar, reductions in the residual oedema. CPT was used to treat 128 lymphoedematous legs; 22 were Grade 1 lymphoedema, 84 were Grade 2 and 19 were elephantitic (Grade 3). After the first course of CPT the mean losses were: 1.1, 1.3 and 3.7 litres, respectively (all very significant). Over the next 11 months there were significant further reductions for all legs and in the amount of oedema of the unilateral legs. Some patients had a second course of CPT with similar reductions in the remaining oedema to that after the first course.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Lymphedema / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods*
  • Time Factors