Fit To Function Logo

Aquatic Therapy: A Modality to Reduce Leg Swelling and Pain from Tamoxifen Use

What is Tamoxifen?

A commonly prescribed breast cancer drug, by the name of Tamoxifen, is used to treat those with breast cancer or reduce the risk for those that have a higher-than-average risk for the disease. As with all prescription drugs, Tamoxifen has many side effects, one of which is leg swelling and/or tenderness, and can have a significant impact on daily function (Cited from breastcancer.org).

How A Current Client is Managing Side Effects with Aquatic Therapy

A current post-cancer treatment client experiences persistent leg swelling and pain which interferes with sleep, contributes to fatigue, impacts sitting and standing ability, and significantly impacts daily function. At present, I am working with this client providing aquatic therapy treatment with the goal of reducing leg swelling and pain. Results thus far have resulted in reduced leg stiffness and swelling, and pain reduction for up to a few hours post aquatic session. Likewise, relaxation has also been a noted benefit.

How Does the Water Help to Reduce Swelling and Pain?

Two properties of water can help to manage symptoms. The first being Hydrostatic Pressure (HP), which is quite simply the pressure that water exerts against the body, and that pressure increases with the depth of immersion. Thus, it acts as a full body compression stocking to circulate fluid around the body, which translates to mean that swelling is reduced in limbs that are swollen. Reduced swelling typically leads to less pain as a result of less pooling of fluid in the limbs. The second property is Turbulence, which is simply the movement of water around the body. Generally speaking, the turbulence resulting from vigorous activity in the pool massages the skin and contributes to pain relief and relaxation.


Move. Transform. Live.