Lymphedema

Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part resulting from an accumulation of fluids.  This usually happens in the extremity and happens when the lymph vessels are damaged, obstructed, underdeveloped or absent. Lymphedema occurs when there is a stagnation of protein that develops in the tissue. This swelling decreases oxygenation of the tissues and interferes with their normal functioning making them heal more slowly than normal.  There are three kinds of Lymphedema, primary, early-onset, and secondary. If Lymphedema is left untreated it can become a chronic condition that can get progressively worse.

Primary Lymphedema may have no known cause but can be from the lymphatic vessels being either inadequate in size, reduced number of vessels, or not enough lymph nodes.

Early-onset Lymphedema is a common type of primary Lymphedema. It usually begins in adolescence and is seen more in women.

Secondary Lymphedema is an acquired condition.  The most common cause is due to removal of lymph nodes from surgery for cancer.  The lymphatic pathways are interrupted by radiation, surgery, injury or blockage with parasites.  Lymphedema may also be a result of chronic venous diseases.

How can I help you?  There are four things that need to happen for you to get Lymphedema under control.

1. Manual Lymph Drainage is done to remove excess fluid and proteins.  I have been trained to open the lymph system in the unaffected regions to help drain the affected area.  I then move the fluid from the affected regions to the unaffected regions.

2.  Compression therapy is done with bandaging the affected limb right after the manual lymph drainage is finished. I use specific bandages that will help keep the fluid out.

3.  You will be taught exercises and breathing to help promote venous and lymph flow by activation the muscle and joint pumps.

4.  Excellent skin cleansing with antibacterial soap and applying a balanced pH lotion will help to eliminate bacterial and fungal growth. This minimizes the possibility of repeated attacks of cellulitis.

Once the Lymphedema is under control you will need to get a fitted compression sleeve, and continue your exercises.

 

If you have had surgery with lymph nodes removed or have had radiation but do not have Lymphedema, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting Lymphedema.

Avoid temperature extremes- hot baths or showers, saunas, burns, travel to extremely hot or cold climates.

Avoid infections which can occur by:  insect bites, manicures and pedicures, vaccinations in affected limb, pet scratches, skin punctures and cuts in affected limb, gardening without wearing gloves.

Avoid blood pressure cuffs on affected extremity, return to vigorous exercise gradually, seek treatment for slight swelling.

Avoid tight clothing, rings, watches, brackets that could constrict the extremity.

Watch your weight and stay away from salt, fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

 

If you have had lymph nodes removed or radiated it is important to get Manual LymphDrainage regularly to try and keep you from getting Lymphedema.