Original Article

Effects of Clinical Pilates Exercises on Patients Developing Lymphedema after Breast Cancer Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial


  • Hülya Özlem Şener
  • Mehtap Malkoç
  • Gülbin Ergin
  • Didem Karadibak
  • Tuğba Yavuzşen

Received Date: 13.05.2016 Accepted Date: 18.07.2016 Eur J Breast Health 2017;13(1):16-22


The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of clinical Pilates exercises with those of the standard lymphedema exercises on lymphedema developing after breast cancer treatment.

Materials and Methods:

The study comprised 60 female patients with a mean age of 53.2±7.7 years who developed lymphedema after having breast cancer treatment. The patients were randomized into two groups: the clinical Pilates exercise group (n=30), and the control group (n=30). Before, and at the 8th week of treatment, the following parameters were measured: the severity of lymphedema, limb circumferences, body image using the Social Appearance Anxiety Scale, quality of life with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life questionnaire (QLQ-BR23), and upper extremity function using the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) outcome measure. Both groups performed one-hour exercises three days a week for 8 weeks.


After treatment, the symptoms recovered significantly in both groups. Reductions in the severity of lymphedema, improvements in the social appearance anxiety scale scores, quality of life scores, and upper extremity functions scores in the clinical Pilates exercise group were greater than those in the control group. Clinical Pilates exercises were determined to be more effective on the symptoms of patients with lymphedema than were standard lymphedema exercises.


Clinical Pilates exercises could be considered a safe model and would contribute to treatment programs.

Keywords: Lymphedema, clinical Pilates, breast cancer, physiotherapy, Combined Decongestive Therapy