Repetitve motions, heavy lifting cause lymphedema?


Question from Cyndal: I've heard that experts recommend that women avoid engaging in repetitive motions or lifting more than ten pounds to prevent lymphedema. Is this true?
Answers - Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D. You should always check with your surgeon to find out what's appropriate, because it will depend on the condition of your particular arm. If you have access to a physical therapist, she or he can help you develop a strength-training program and progress with it. Without more clinical information, we really can't recommend that women should or should not go above the ten-pound limit that some surgeons recommend.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you can comfortably lift ten pounds on the affected side of your body, but can easily lift 20 pounds on the other side, is it a bad idea to lift uneven amounts of weight?
Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D. For some exercises, lifting unequal amounts of weight shouldn't pose problems. If you are using weight-training machines, however, they may be set up so that both of arms lift the same amount of weight—so it really depends on what you're doing.

On Wednesday, May 21, 2003, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Taking Care of YourselfAnne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about exercise and nutrition, and other things you can do to nurture your body, along with strategies for finding emotional support, boosting your mood, and feeling good again.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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