Bicego, D., Brown, K., Ruddick, M., Storey, D., Wong, C., & Harris, S.R. (2006). Exercise for women with or at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema. Physical Therapy, 86(10), 1398–1405.doi: 10.2522/ptj.20050328
To question: (a) Does aerobic or resistance exercise lead to lymphedema in women who are at risk? and (b) Does aerobic or resistance exercise reduce or exacerbate preexisting lymphedema?
Eight studies were reviewed; five were Sackett level V and three studies were level ll.
It has long been believed that aerobic exercise and UE resistance should be avoided for women at risk of or who have lymphedema; however, recent studies suggest that it may be safe.
Additional research with larger randomized controls is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of exercise for women with breast cancer-related lymphedema.