Can the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach provide additional benefits for the Lymphoedema patients already receiving MLD treatment?

By Tanya Magen


Upper and lower limb Lymphoedema is a distressing condition. If untreated the condition often gradually worsens.

Traditional treatment for this condition includes Manual Lymph Drainage massage, compression bandaging, garments use, skin care, exercise regime and sometimes diuretic drugs.

The aims and objectives of this research were:

a) To enhance the total approach to the management of Lymphoedema by traditional methods together with TCM application.

b) To improve the quality of life of Lymphoedema patients.

Two groups of patients were invited to undergo two different procedures:

One group (Control Group) received five intensive MLD treatments followed by five MLD treatments during 2-3 weeks.

The second group (Experimental Group) received five intensive MLD treatments followed by five TCM treatments during 2-3 weeks.

A study of (n=10) was conducted with an aim to reduce the Lymphoedema and improve the quality of life of the patients. Four quantitative outcome measures were employed (Volume, Weight, percentage of volume reduction or increase and MYMOP) in order to assess the relevant data.

Patients and practitioners notes were analyzed as part of the qualitative outcome for the study.

The analysis of the data revealed potential benefits of an integrated approach to Lymphoedema. Despite the fact that this was a small study conducted in a short period of time and the quantitative data of the experimental group proved to be slightly better than the control group this small study has not been able to demonstrate that TCM is significantly superior to MLD alone.

The integrated approach had positive effects on the patients and no adverse effects.

The holistic and individual approach of TCM presents a challenge to clinical testing. This study is intended to be a useful contribution to further understanding and treatment of Lymphoedema pathology.