An early classification of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for lymphedema was based on simple limb measurements.

Patient selection: unilateral lymphedema



(1) circumference of the affected limb in cm

(2) circumference of the opposite (normal) limb in cm


There could be two approaches to taking these measurements:

(1) maximum circumference of the affected limb, then the corresponding site on the opposite limb

(2) the circumference at a standardized place on each limb


difference between the two limbs = interlimb discrepancy =

= (circumference of affected limb) - (circumference of the unaffected limb)


Difference in cm


< 3 cm


3 to 5 cm


> 5 cm



Management would be affected by the grade of the lymphedema, with more severe lymphedema requiring more aggressive management.

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