Kinesiology Tape for Lymphedema in Breast Cancer Patients

Virtually all treatments for breast cancer involve surgical removal of the cancerous tumor(s). The amount of tissue removed is determined by multiple factors, including the size and type of tumor and how far it has spread. When breast cancer has developed to the point of being “invasive” (having grown beyond the breast into the surrounding tissue), all of the affected tissue must also be removed. Lymph nodes are small filters located in crucial areas of the body. Their job is to filter and trap harmful substances, including cancer cells, and eliminate them from the body. Because of this function, the lymph nodes located in the armpit or axilla are a likely place to find cancer cells that have escaped from the original tumor. lymphedema-armsDuring breast cancer surgery, the axilary lymph nodes are examined, and any that are cancerous are removed. While this is critical to prevent the spread of the cancer, the removal of large numbers of lymph nodes can significantly reduce the ability to drain excess fluid from the area. This can lead to a condition called lymphedema (also spelled lymphoedema). The primary symptom is an abnormal buildup of fluid, causing swelling and discomfort in the upper body on the same side as the surgery.  Although most common in the arm and hand, it can also affect the breast, chest wall or ribcage area. Other symptoms of lymphedema include:

- Swelling in the breast, chest, shoulder, arm, or hand - A full or heavy sensation in the arms or legs - Tightness, hardening or redness of the skin. - New aching, tingling, or other discomfort in the area - Decreased flexibility in nearby joints, such as the shoulder, elbow,  wrist or hand - Difficulty fitting into bras or clothing that previously fit - Rings,  watches, and/or bracelets feel tighter than before surgery

Lymphedema can be painful, disfiguring and even life-threatening if left untreated. Conventional treatments include lymphatic drainage massage, compression bandages, wraps or garments and exercises to improve range of motion and encourage lymphatic flow.

Kinesiology Taping for Lymphedema

Examples of Kinesiology Taping for LymphedemaMore recently, excitement has been generated in the lymphedema treatment community about the use of kinesiology taping as an effective modality to reduce the symptoms of lymphedema following breast cancer surgery. Simple to apply and comfortable to wear, kinesiology tape can be applied directly over swollen areas and worn for up to 5 days, enhancing lymphatic drainage the entire time it is worn. Rather than compressing irritated and sensitive tissues, kinesiology tape gently lifts the upper layers of skin, creating a negative pressure that encourages the removal of excess fluid through the lymphatic pathways. The tape is applied in a fan-like pattern, with narrow “fingers” of tape crisscrossing the surface of the affected area. Lymphatic flow is directed through the lymphatic channels under the strips toward the solid end of the tape that is applied over the lymph duct area. In the past, these lymphatic drainage strips were cut by hand from rolls of 1”, 2”, 3” or 4” wide kinesiology tape, which could be quite time-consuming. More recently, however, several companies have begun to offer precut edema strips or fan cuts in a variety of widths and lengths. The machine-cut edges of these precut applications greatly reduce the fraying caused by scissors, improving both the appearance and durability of the applications. Following are the 3 major brands of precut edema or fan strips:

Nasara QuickStrips Precut Edema Strips

Kinesio Tape Fan Cuts

RockTape Precut Edema Strips

Learn More

For more information on how kinesiology tape is being studied and used to treat symptoms of lymphedema, please refer to the links below: suggests kinesiology tape for lymphedema RockTape’s Audit on the use of kinesiology tape for breast oedema (PDF) Article regarding the use of kinesiology tape to aid in lymphedema treatment in cancer patients Case Report - Is kinesiology taping useful for advanced cancer lymphedema treatment? (PDF) Want to get application instructions and learn more about kinesiology tape? Sign up for our newsletter or get social with us on PinterestTwitterYouTube, and Facebook!

Kinesiology Tape for Lymphedema in Breast Cancer Patients

Kinesio Taping for Lymphoedema and Chronic Swelling Instruction Manual Lymphedema Manual Contents - Pg 1

Kinesio Taping for Lymphoedema and Chronic Swelling Manual


Kinesio Classic Fan Cuts - Pack of 12


Nasara QuickStrips - Precut Edema Strips

Theratape Edema Strips Variety Pack

Theratape Edema Strips Variety Pack


RockTape Precut Edema Strips


SpiderTech Precut Medium Fan Tape