TurningPoint clinicians have long been aware that there is a relationship between long-standing lymphedema and shoulder pain and problems. In a study published last month, researchers in Korea examined the relationship between lymphedema and shoulder joint changes in breast cancer patients. Forty-seven breast cancer patients with lymphedema were assessed. The duration of the arm swelling and shoulder pain were recorded. Ultrasound examination of the shoulder joint was performed in all patients to detect any changes in the soft tissue around the shoulder joint.

Interestingly, abnormalities were found in 87% of the 47 participants. These changes included thickening of the bursa and small tears in the rotator cuff tendons. The changes tended to be more significant in patients who had lymphedema for a longer period of time. The authors concluded that there is a relationship between shoulder problems and lymphedema and that clinicians should adopt an early management approach for shoulder pain in patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema, http://affectivebrain.com/?attachment_id=5775.

TurningPoint’s lymphedema screening program which facilitates early detection and management of lymphedema, along with providing rehabilitation for shoulder issues when they occur, should reduce the impact of lymphedema on long-term shoulder issues.

Yang DH et al. The Influence of Arm Swelling Duration on Shoulder Pathology in Breast Cancer Patients with Lymphedema. PLoS One. 2015 Nov 16;10(11):e0142950. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142950. eCollection 2015.