Muscle strength and functional exercise capacity in patients with lipedema and obesity: a pilot study
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Rationale: Lipedema is a disorder of adipose tissue that occurs exclusively in women, frequently misdiagnosed as lymphedema or dismissed as obesity. It is often seen that muscle strength is decreased in patients with lipedema compared to norm values. Measuring muscle strength and functional exercise capacity may give more clarity to differentiate between lipedema and obesity. Although investigated in many patients, this has never been examined in a scientific study. The primary aim of the current study is to investigate whether there is a difference in muscle strength between women with lipedema and women with obesity. The secondary aim of the current study is to investigate whether there is a difference in functional exercise capacity between women with lipedema and women with obesity. Methods: The current study is a cross-sectional pilot study. Forty-four women of 18 years and older participated in this study. Twenty-two women with lipedema and 22 women with obesity. Participants were included in the lipedema group when they were: 1) diagnosed with lipedema following the criteria of Wold et al.; 2) age ≥18 years. Participants were included in the obese group when they met the following criteria: 1) Body Mass Index ≥30; 2) female; 3) age ≥18 years. Muscle strength of the m. quadriceps was measured with de MicroFET and functional exercise capacity was measured with the six minute walking test (6MWT) in women with lipedema and women with obesity. Independent samples t-tests were performed to determine differences in muscle strength and functional exercise capacity between women with lipedema and women with obesity. Results: Patients with lipedema had statistically significant (p=0.00) lower muscle strength of the m. Quadriceps compared to patients with obesity for both legs. Patients with lipedema scored 494.1(±116.0) m and patients with obesity scored 523.9(±62.9) m on the 6MWT. The difference in functional exercise capacity was not statistically significant (P=0.296). Conclusion: There is a negative difference in muscle strength between patients with lipedema and patients with obesity. Considering these differences in muscle strength, measuring muscle strength in patients with lipedema is recommended to be added to the standard clinical examination. Moreover a possible entry for exercise training.