Effectiveness of edema management techniques for subacute hand edema: A systematic review

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Study Design: Systematic review.

Introduction: Prolonged hand edema can have detrimental effects on range of motion and function. There is no consensus on how best to manage traumatic subacute edema. This is the first systematic review which examines the clinical effectiveness of edema treatments on hand volume.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the evidence of effectiveness of treatments for sub-acute hand edema.

Methods: A literature search of AMED, CINAHL, Embase, and OVID MEDLINE (from inception to August 2015) was undertaken. Studies were selected if they met the following inclusion criteria: randomized controlled or controlled trials in adults who have subacute swelling after a recent upper limb musculoskeletal
trauma or cerebral vascular attack or after surgery. Two independent assessors rated study quality and risk of bias using the 24-point MacDermid Structured Effectiveness Quality Evaluation Scale (SEQES).

Results: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. Study quality ranged from 23 to 41 out of 48 points on the SEQES. A total of 16 edema interventions were evaluated across the studies. Due to heterogeneity of the patient characteristics, interventions, and outcomes assessed, it was not possible to pool the results from all studies. Therefore, a narrative best evidence synthesis was undertaken. There is low to moderate quality evidence with limited confidence in the effect estimate to support the use of manual edema mobilization methods in conjunction with standard therapy to reduce problematic hand edema.

Conclusion: Manual edema mobilization techniques should be considered in conjunction with conventional therapies, in cases of excessive edema or when the edema has not responded to conventional treatment alone; however, manual edema mobilization is not advocated as a routine intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-446
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number4
Early online date12 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2017


  • Edema
  • Compression
  • Hand therapy
  • hand
  • Treatment
  • Kinesiology tape

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