by Janet Wolfson PT, CLWT, CWS, CLT-LANA
For a long time, it was debated whether patients with lymphedema should partake in an exercise regimen. Today, fears of overloading the lymphatic system and of causing injuries have been resolved by research findings; however, there are precautions to take, and some types of exercise are more beneficial than others. When done correctly, these exercises can improve strength, quality of life, and ability to care for oneself and others, increase range of motion, decrease pain, and even reduce edema. Lymphedema-specific programs have been developed by wonderfully creative and knowledgeable people, too. As always, patients must consult with a health care provider before embarking on a new exercise regimen. If you are managing a patient who lacks strength or full range of motion, has difficulty in daily activities, or has problems walking, therapists can help develop a safe program and improve deficits to work up to a recreational exercise program.