, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 90-94
Date: 04 May 2006

Low-level laser therapy in management of postmastectomy lymphedema

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Abstract

The aim of this paper was to study the effects of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of postmastectomy lymphedema. Eleven women with unilateral postmastectomy lymphedema were enrolled in a double-blind controlled trial. Patients were randomly assigned to laser and sham groups and received laser or placebo irradiation (Ga–As laser device with a wavelength of 890 nm and fluence of 1.5 J/cm2) over the arm and axillary areas. Changes in patients’ limb circumference, pain score, range of motion, heaviness of the affected limb, and desire to continue the treatment were measured before the treatment and at follow-up sessions (weeks 3, 9, 12, 18, and 22) and were compared to pretreatment values. Results showed that of the 11 enrolled patients, eight completed the treatment sessions. Reduction in limb circumference was detected in both groups, although it was more pronounced in the laser group up to the end of 22nd week. Desire to continue treatment at each session and baseline score in the laser group was greater than in the sham group in all sessions. Pain reduction in the laser group was more than in the sham group except for the weeks 3 and 9. No substantial differences were seen in other two parameters between the two treatment groups. In conclusion, despite our encouraging results, further studies of the effects of LLLT in management of postmastectomy lymphedema should be undertaken to determine the optimal physiological and physical parameters to obtain the most effective clinical response.