The Lymphatic Pump Technique for the Treatment of the Lower Limb Lymphedema
Lymphedema is a condition occurring when the lymphatic system fails to efficiently transport the lymph, thus creating a fluid accumulation in the interstitial space. As of today, the rehabilitation treatment for lymphedema relies on the principles of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), a series of treatments designed to favor the reabsorption of the lymph by the lymphatic system and to restore the functionality of the affected limb. From an osteopathic point of view, interesting results have been obtained through Lymphatic Pump Technique (LPT), a series of oscillatory techniques applied to different areas of the body such as chest, abdomen and feet. A few LPT studies on animals have shown a significant improvement not only in the lymphatic system efficiency (an increase of 271% in lymph flow) but also in the immune system.
AIM. From the scientific evidence derived from such studies, in this paper we propose a clinical trial aiming to demonstrate the benefits that this technique can bring to human beings in a specific rehabilitation process following a lower limb lymphoedema.
MATERIAL AND METHODS. An indirect volumetric measurement of lymphedematous limbs according to the segmental technique was performed on six subjects having a history of CDT treatments with different clinical histories, age, gender, work and sport characteristics.The results of the study group treated with the LPT were compared to the results of the same subjects who previously underwent CDT treatment only. The LPT was applied in 8 sessions for two weeks, i.e. for the period of time scheduled for normal physiotherapy rehabilitation including CDT.
RESULTS. The average volume before CDT was 9470.6 ml while after treatment was 8429 ml. The mean volume before CDT associated with LPT was 9608.5 ml, whereas after treatment the mean was 8267 ml with a significant reduction in lymphoedema.
CONCLUSIONS. Despite the small number of cases examined, the treatment described in this project has led to positive and statistically significant results, in terms of absorption of lymphedema, especially reducing the volume of the limb. LPT is safe as it is a non-invasive technique, performed with the application of light forces, and integrates perfectly with the CDT.
KEYWORDS: complete decongestive therapy, lymphatic pump treatment, lymphedema