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November 2015

Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices in the Management of Lymphedema

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Research & Implementation of Clinical Practice, London, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Nursing & Health Care, School of Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • 3Division of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital, Derby, United Kingdom
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(11):1181-1182. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1974

Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive, debilitating condition. An estimated 100 000 people in the United Kingdom with lymphedema are cared for by health care professionals and, by extrapolation, 5 times that number in the United States.1 It is likely that there may be many more people who do not access health care services to manage the condition.

A significant proportion of patients with lymphedema experience worsening limb swelling. Many have impairments in mobility and function owing to the weight and bulk of a lymphedematous limb. Complications include chronic pain, decreased range of motion, and increased incidence of acute inflammatory episodes and infection. Psychological complications may include increased anxiety, depression, and negative body image. Lymphedema is an incurable but manageable condition. Increasing awareness of the considerable health, economic, and psychosocial consequences of this chronic disability has intensified the search for more effective management strategies.

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