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Lymphedema

Lymphedema 
Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part, most often an extremity, caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymph (interstitial) fluid. Lymphedema may be caused by an anomaly present at birth, but is more commonly due to events which occur during the lifespan. The following is a list of common causes of lymphedema.

Inserted ImageSurgery e.g.: breast cancer, malignant melanoma, prostate and bladder cancer, lymphoma, hysterectomy for cancer, radical groin dissection.

Inserted ImageTrauma

While treatment can vastly improve lymphedema, there is no permanent cure for this disease.

How Does One Prevent Lymphedema?

Inserted ImageAvoid temperature extremes (no hot tubs, no sunburns)

Inserted ImageAvoid infections and injury

Inserted ImageGeneral Consideration

Inserted ImageDiet-excellent overall nutrition

Inserted ImageAvoid alcohol and nicotine as much as possible

Inserted ImageAvoid obesity

Inserted ImageMeticulous cleanliness including skin and nail care

Inserted Image Sleep with limb elevated or wrapped

Inserted ImageExercise - walking or swimming

Inserted ImageUse hypoallergenic products

Inserted ImageSeek treatment for slight changes in lymphedema

Inserted ImageTreat infections vigorously

Inserted ImageAvoid high-heeled shoes

Inserted ImageTravel with limb elevated or wrapped



How is Lymphedema Treated?
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle manual treatment, which improves the activity of the lymph system. MLD reroutes lymph flow around blocked areas into more centrally located, healthy lymph vessels which drain into the venous system.

Compression Bandaging is the application to minimally elastic cotton bandages to increase the tissue pressure in the swollen extremity. Bandaging improves the efficiency of muscle and joint pumps. Bandaging prevents the reaccumulation of evacuated lymph fluid. Bandaging helps break up accumulated scar and connective tissue.

Remedial Exercises are preformed with bandages or the support garment in place. These exercises are designed to improve lymph circulation through the muscle joint pump.

Meticulous Skin and Nail Care eliminates bacterial and fungal growth and reduces the chance of infection.

Benefits of Lymphedema Treatment

Inserted ImageDecrease risk/incidence of infection

Inserted ImagePrevent progression of disease

Inserted ImagePrevent connective and scar tissue formation in affected areas

Inserted Image Improve extremity function for increased ease with activities of daily living, work and leisure

Inserted ImageImprove self-esteem


 

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