Lymphedema is a fluid buildup in your arm or leg that causes swelling, and decreased mobility of the joints that can make it very hard to use your limb. Lymphedema also makes it very likely that the affected limb will become infected. Lymphedema is often caused by the removal of lymph nodes, as is frequently done in cancer surgeries. Radiation treatment for cancer or surgeries to correct broken bones can also cause lymphedema.
It is very important to take care of the affected limb after a surgery to prevent lymphedema, or to mange it correctly to prevent it from getting worse. Some people get lymphedema a few days after surgery, but most commonly, lymphedema develops 1-2 years later. Lymphedema can even develop several decades later, making the treatment to prevent it from developing a commitment for life.
Many things to prevent injuries induced from Lymphedema that can lead to serious infections, can be easily done in every day life like wearing gloves for gardening, not walking barefoot outside, wearing sun screen and insect repellant, being careful when you clip your nails, and not clipping your cuticles. Also, when you go to the doctor or hospital, make sure you are not given any injections in the affected arm and that your blood pressure is not measured at the affected arm and that the staff knows about your condition. Avoid heat, as it increases the blood flow to your limbs, which can increase swelling. This also means that you should not go to saunas or soak in hot tubs. Prop up your limb above the level heart as often as you can, and see a physical therapist for exercises and special massages that you can learn to keep the fluid flowing. When you feel that your limb is getting tight or full, see your doctor. Talk to him or her about compression garment and pressure pumps. Compression garments are specially designed stockings or sleeves that keep fluid from building up in the limps.
Pressure pumps with special leg or arm compression sleeves are medical devices that help with the blood and fluid flow by building pressure around the affected limp from the outside. There are three different categories available for the treatment of lymphedema: some deliver uniform compression around the entire limb. Sequential compression systems inflate from one end to the other (the direction should always be from fingers to shoulder or toes to hip, never the other way around). Gradient sequential compression systems are similar to sequential compression systems in that they fill from fingers to shoulder or toe to hip, but the pressure in each segment is lower the closer the segment is to the shoulder or hip. All these systems (pumps and sleeves) can be purchased at Vitality Medical. On their web site at the Compression Therapy Store are many more resources to answer lots of questions.
Don’t let lymphedema destroy your quality of life. Fight back with lymphedema pumps and lymphedema sleeves from Vitality Medical.
WebMD – Lymphedema: Managing Lymphedema