lipedema treatment

Benefits of Traditional Treatments in Lipedema Pain Management

By September 22, 2022 July 8th, 2024 No Comments

For today, I’d like to tell you about a paper entitled Lymphedema Treatment Decreases Pain Intensity in Lipedema. This study was performed by a group of researchers in Szeged, Hungary. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Lymphology in 2011. This study aimed to measure the impact of traditional treatment for lymphedema on pain intensity experienced by women with lipedema. Lymphedema treatment is described in this paper as consisting of manual lymph drainage (MLD), pneumatic pump, skin care, compression bandaging, and exercise. 

What are the methods of the study?

For this study, 38 women diagnosed with lipedema were divided into 2 groups. The first group (treatment group) received traditional lymphedema therapy as described above, while the second group, serving as a control group, only received skincare with a moisturizer. The average age of the women in the treatment group was 54 years and the average age in the control group was 56.

The participants in the treatment group underwent 5 days of once-daily treatment. This consisted of 30 minutes of MLD, 30 minutes using a pneumatic pump set at 30 mmHg, followed by skin care with moisturizers and multilayered short-stretch bandaging with the appropriate padding. This group also walked twice daily for 30 minutes. As noted before, the control group only received skin care with moisturizer once per day for 5 days.

What data did they collect in the study?

The data collected in this study included pre- and post-intervention calculations of leg volume and three different pain assessments as follows. 

First, A 30-item questionnaire was used to characterize the most typical adjectives that are used to describe pain such as pressing, dull, heavy, pulling, unbearable, exhausting, and stabbing pain. The participants were then asked to rate how well each adjective described what they were experiencing, by rating it as it “fits fairly well,” “fits to a limited extent,” or “does not fit.”  The 10 most agreed upon pain adjectives were then each rated by participants using a scale of 1 to 4 (1 = no pain, and 4 = most severe pain)

Secondly, the pain was measured using the Pain Rating Scale which rates pain from 0 to 10 (0 = no pain, 10 = most severe pain). 

The third method to measure pain was the Wong-Baker Faces scale. You might have seen this at your healthcare provider. There are 10 facial expressions that range from smiling (no pain) to crying and sweating (the most severe pain). 

What were the results?

The treatment group experienced a significant reduction in leg volume compared to baseline measurements, while the control group did not have a significant reduction. Additionally, the treatment group had a significant reduction in pain in all three measures while the control group only showed a significant pain reduction in the Pain Rating Scale.

The authors suggest that this study demonstrates the benefit of CDT for lipedema not only for leg volume reduction but as a superior method for reducing pain. They believe that this might be accomplished by reducing the heaviness and joint pain by reducing the size of the legs. They have shown in previous studies that capillary fragility and bruising are reduced with lymphatic treatment as well, which might also contribute to pain reduction. 

My Takeaways

This paper is important for women with lipedema because it demonstrates how important and effective conservative manual treatments are for the management of lipedema symptoms. Reducing pain and leg volume can be important aspects of improving quality of life as well. 

It’s good to know that those with lipedema get to enjoy some benefits of traditional treatments in managing and treating the pain that comes from lipedema. Research like this helps us expand our knowledge about lipedema and how to treat it, and gives us hope that there will be more to come in the near future.

For more related content, be sure to check out Lipedema Simplified’s Flash Briefings, our daily mini-podcast with tips, tools, helpful research, and other resources pertaining to lipedema.

~ Leslyn Keith, OTD, CLT-LANA
Board President, Director of Research | The Lipedema Project

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