Risk Factors Related to Lower Limb Edema, Compression, and Physical Activity During Pregnancy: A Retrospective Study

Lymphat Res Biol. 2017 Jun;15(2):166-171. doi: 10.1089/lrb.2016.0038. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Objective: The aim of the article was to assess risk factors and to analyze methods applied in the prevention and treatment of lower limb edema in pregnant women with a particular focus on compression therapy and exercise.

Materials and methods: Fifty-four women during the early 24-hour period following delivery were assigned to two groups-either to a group with swellings of lower limbs during pregnancy, located mostly in the region of feet and lower legs (Group A, n = 42), or to a group without edema (Group B, n = 12). Two subgroups, namely A1 and A2, were additionally distinguished in Group A. Compression therapy that consisted in wearing circular-knit compression garments, usually at compression level 1 (ccl1), with three cases of compression level 2 (ccl2) was applied only in Group A1 (n = 18 women).

Results: The analysis has led to a conclusion that there is a link between the occurrence of edema during pregnancy on the one hand and the pregravidity episodes of venous conditions (vascular insufficiency and thrombosis, p < 0.05) and the lack of physical exercise during pregnancy (p = 0.01) on the other hand. However, interdependence between the occurrence of edema and the number of times a female had been pregnant, physical activity before gravidity, or body mass index before gravidity has not been identified. Only 33% of the analyzed women applied compression therapy during pregnancy; a half of them continued to apply compression during the postpartum period.

Conclusions: Compression therapy in combination with proper physical exercises appears to be an effective means to prevent and treat venous thrombosis and lower limb edema in pregnant women, yet further research in line with the principles of evidence-based medicine is required.

Keywords: compression; edema; physical activity; pregnancy; prophylaxis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Edema / pathology
  • Edema / prevention & control
  • Edema / therapy*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stockings, Compression*
  • Young Adult