Purpose: Active exercise with compression therapy (AECT) is a standard treatment for gynecological cancer-related lower-limb lymphedema (LLL) in clinical situations. However, there is insufficient evidence regarding the immediate effects of the use of AECT on LLL. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the immediate effects of AECT on LLL. Methods: Participants in this randomized controlled crossover trial comprised 23 women with LLL who completed high-load AECT, low-load AECT, and compression-only therapy (CT). AECT was performed on a bicycle ergometer with short stretch bandages. Each intervention was performed for 15 min, with successive interventions separated by a 1-week washout period. Lower-limb volume was assessed using a Perometer™ sensor (Pero-system, Wuppertal, Germany). General symptoms (pain and heaviness) and skin symptoms (pitting and stiffness) were assessed using a visual analog scale and palpation, respectively. Measurements were taken before and after each intervention. Analysis of variance using linear mixed-effect modeling was used for statistical analyses. Results: Volume decrement differed significantly between all three interventions (P < 0.05). Lower-limb volume was significantly reduced after high-load AECT compared to that after CT. General symptoms and skin symptoms were similar across the three interventions, but severity of pre-intervention skin symptoms correlated significantly with volume decrement after high- and low-load AECT. High-load AECT using the bicycle ergometer was more effective than CT for decreasing lower-limb volume. Conclusions: These results suggest that high-load AECT has marked effects on severe LLL.
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