Estimation of Neural Tissue Mobility in Breast Cancer Survivors with Lymphedema

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Musculoskeletal Sciences, Krishna College of Physiotherapy, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Deemed to Be University, Karad, Maharashtra, India.

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Deemed to Be University, Karad, Maharashtra, India.


Background: Lymphedema in breast cancer survivors is a very common condition which progressively may lead to entrapment  neuropathy. In lymphedema there is accumulation of fluid due to removal of lymph nodes which causes stretching of nerve fibres within the skin, compression on top of the nerve bundle leading to nerve entrapment. This will increase the neural mechanosensitivity and functional impairment of shoulder as a protective neural response to movement or traction. Methods: This study was carried out by assessing the total 72 breast cancer survivor women, with lymphedema. Out of 72, 28 of women underwent lumpectomy, 12 underwent quadrantectomy and 32 underwent unilateral mastectomy.  These subjects were assessed for neural tissue mobility by taking pain assessment using visual analogue scale (VAS), range of motion (ROM) using goniometer, lymphedema measurement using an inch tape. The neural tissue mobility for  median nerve, ulnar nerve and radial nerve was measured using limb tension test. Result: The result obtained from this study showed that neural tissue mobility was significantly impaired in breast cancer survivors with lymphedema. The result of the upper limb tension tests showed 32 women with mild lymphedema had median nerve affected on the involved side 54.1%, about  21 women had moderate lymphedema with 75% of women had median and 25% ulnar nerve affected with median nerve affected in majority of women. Only 19 women with severe lymphedema had all the three nerves affected. Conclusion: This study of women who have undergone surgical intervention for breast cancer concludes that there was significant amount of neural tissue impairment noted to mechanical provocation test post operatively after 6 months of surgery. The study suggests that severity of lymphedema was directly related to the nerves affected due to neural tissue impairment.


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