Influence of manual lymphatic drainage on health-related quality of life and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency: a randomized controlled trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Feb;96(2):283-91. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.09.020. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) in improving health-related quality of life (HRQOL), symptomatology, and physical status in patients with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

Design: Single-blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Health community attendant service.

Participants: Subjects with CVI (N=41) were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n=20; mean age, 54.6±11.3y) or control group (n=21; mean age, 46.8±11.1y).

Interventions: The experimental group completed 10 lower extremity MLD sessions over 4 weeks and 1 educational session. The control group only attended the educational session. Outcome measures were taken at baseline (t0), at the end of 4 weeks (t1), and after 2 months for follow-up (t2).

Main outcome measures: HRQOL was assessed with the Chronic Venous Insufficiency Quality of Life Questionnaire-20, symptoms (fatigue, heaviness) were assessed with a visual analog scale, severity of the disease was assessed with the Venous Clinical Severity Score (VCSS) (total score, score for each item), leg volumetry was assessed with perimeters, and plantar/dorsiflexion strength and ankle range of motion (ROM) were assessed with dynamometry.

Results: A significant interaction group×time effect was found for pain on HRQOL (F2,78=3.507; P=.035; partial η2=.087), clinical severity (F2,78=5.231; P=.007; partial η2=.118), especially for venous edema (assessed with the VCSS), fatigue (F1.67,65.21=4.690; P=.012; partial η2=.107), and heaviness (F1.57,61.32=9.702; P=.001; partial η2=.199), with the experimental group improving from t0 to t1 and t0 to t2 in all of these outcomes. No effect of MLD treatment could be found for ankle muscle strength, ankle ROM, and leg volume.

Conclusions: Short-term MLD treatment ameliorates CVI severity and related edema, symptoms, and pain HRQOL in patients with CVI.

Keywords: Edema; Manual therapies; Rehabilitation; Venous insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Lymphedema / etiology
  • Lymphedema / physiopathology
  • Lymphedema / therapy*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Organ Size
  • Pain / etiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Venous Insufficiency / complications
  • Venous Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Venous Insufficiency / therapy*