Lymphoedema And Complementary Therapies In SW London
WHAT IS IT?
Lymphoedema is swelling that develops because of a build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains the fluid away, isn't working properly. It can occur in any part of the body, but is most likely to affect an arm or a leg.
Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling. That means it is a condition that never goes away because the causes can’t be reversed. However, it can be reduced in most people, and the swelling can often be kept to a minimum, particularly when it’s diagnosed early.
Specialist Lymphoedema Practitioner can assess and treat lymphoedema. They can also teach you how to manage it yourself.
There are two main types of Lymphoedema:
Primary Lymphoedema usually determined from birth and arises due to some failure of the lymphatic system itself - usually with the underdevelopment of the lymphatic system. It may develop without any obvious cause at different stages in life, but particularly at puberty.
Secondary Lymphoedema is the result of some problem outside of the lymphatic system that prevents it working properly. Example Surgery, radiotherapy, Accidental trauma/injury or infection, educed mobility/paralysis, Problems with veins not working very well (varicose veins/after deep vein thrombosis), Cancer itself
HOW DO WE MANAGE LYMPHOEDEMA?
Decongestive Lymphatic therapy (DLT) is recommended treatment for lymphoedema
...DLT usually begins with an intensive phase of therapy, during which you may receive daily treatment for several weeks to help reduce the volume of the affected body part.
This is followed by the second phase, known as the maintenance phase. During this, you will be encouraged to take over your own care by carrying out simple self-massage techniques, wearing compression garments and continuing to exercise. This phase of treatment aims to maintain the reduced size of the affected body part.
You may then have reviews every few months to check how your treatment is progressing...
THERE ARE FOUR COMPONENTS TO DLT:
1. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)
Specialised massages carried out by a specialist therapist – to move fluid from the swollen areas into working lymph nodes, where it can be drained.
Specialist lymphoedema therapist will also teach you a range of simpler massage techniques that you can use during the maintenance phase of treatment, to help keep the swelling down. These self-massage techniques are known as simple lymphatic drainage (SLD).
2. Compression bandages and garments
If you have lymphoedema, you will have special bandages or garments (such as sleeves, gloves, stockings or tights) fitted over any affected limbs. These will support the affected muscles during exercise and encourage them to move fluid out of the affected limb.
These may also be applied after a session of MLD, to prevent fluid accumulating in the limb again. This use of compression bandages and garments is known as multilayer lymphoedema bandaging.
You will be taught how to correctly apply your own bandages and compression garments, so you can continue to use them during the maintenance period.
3. Skin care
Taking good care of your skin is important, because it will reduce your risk of developing possible complications such as infection, cellulitis. It is important to keep your skin and tissue in healthy and good texture
Maximise lymph drainage without over exertion (this would cause the swelling to worsen)