What Is Lymphedema And How Is It Treated?

Posted on: 18 March 2015

If you have excessive swelling, also called edema, in your arms and legs, you might be dealing with a condition called lymphedema. There are a few different things that lead to the condition, with one of the biggest leading causes being removal of your lymph nodes. Since your lymph nodes are responsible for filtering out fluid and trapping bacteria and viruses, going without them could mean having excess fluid that leads to lymphedema. Here are the treatment options for lymphedema.

Pressure Garments

The goal in treating lymphedema is simply to reduce the swelling and discomfort associated with the condition. A good way to do this is by wearing pressure garments. Pressure garments put a certain amount of pressure on your limbs to move the fluid and keep it from remaining in one place. There are pressure garments for your arms and legs, and they can be custom-made to fit your size perfectly. You should wear pressure garments any time you risk swelling, such as riding on an airplane or exercising.

Physical Activity

While you might not feel up to strenuous exercise, you still need a good amount of physical activity. You need to do enough that your heart and lungs are working hard and getting your blood flowing. You can try aerobic and cardio exercises, which will help your lymph vessels move fluid out of your limbs that might be affected. Taking a walk every day, joining an aerobics class, or getting a cardio workout machine from home can be very useful. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine.

Wrapping

In addition to wearing pressure garments, you can also try wrapping a bandage around limbs after you have successfully stopped the swelling. This won't be helpful if there is already fluid buildup, so you will need to try other methods of reducing the swelling first. Once you have done that, wrap a bandage around that limb to prevent it from re-filling with fluid. The bandage also helps the lymph vessels to move the fluid along.

Compression Device

If the wrapping or compression garments are not working, you might need to use a compression device. This is a sleeve wrapped around your arm or leg that is connected to a pump. During timed increments, the sleeve will be inflated and deflated by the pump, adding and releasing pressure on the limb. This will help the fluid to keep moving and keep it from building up in one part of your body.

In addition to these treatments, gentle massage therapy may also help you encourage the fluid to move through your limbs instead of building up. Contact Dynamic Rehabilitation Services for more information about lymphedema treatment.

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